Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the nonprofit record label dedicated to preserving cultural heritage and amplifying the voices of underrepresented communities and artists, is launching a new charitable giving program, Friends of Folkways, today. As part of Smithsonian Folkways’ 75th anniversary celebration, Friends of Folkways invites music enthusiasts and supporters of Smithsonian Folkways to become an integral part of the label’s mission by making its 60,000+ track digital catalog available on the Smithsonian Folkways website for a minimum tax-deductible donation of $5 a month.
One of the few nonprofit labels in operation today, Folkways is committed to the people it serves and does not receive operational support from the U.S. federal government. The Friends of Folkways program not only supports the label but will provide patrons with complete access to one of the world’s largest and most eclectic musical archives. Contributions will also support the artists directly in the form of streaming royalties.
Folkways’ catalog is a treasure trove that transcends genre, place, and time, and the innovative offering made possible by Friends of Folkways highlights its astounding breadth and depth. At 60,000+ tracks, Folkways’ collection is truly one of unprecedented scale for an independent label. From American singer-songwriter legends like Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, and Lucinda Williams, to spoken-word recordings by political figures like Angela Davis, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bernie Sanders, the catalog offers a snapshot into not just music history, but history of the world at large.
In addition to its historical recordings, Folkways’ catalog also includes contemporary artists taking its legacy forward, such as Our Native Daughters, Jake Blount, Kronos Quartet, No-No Boy, Lula Wiles, and more. There are a wealth of recordings from all corners of the globe, music from subsidiary labels such as Arhoolie, Folk-Legacy, and Paredon, and significant collections such as Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection, Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, and Playing for the Man at the Door: Field Recordings from the Collection of Mack McCormick, 1958–1971.
And this fall, to further celebrate 75 years of Folkways, the label is also reissuing classic LPs from its collection (including Sounds of North American Frogs on November 3), releasing new, contemporary albums from artists like Cass McCombs and Matmos which are emblematic of the label’s future, and will host a Folkways 75 takeover at The Brooklyn Folk Festival, November 10 to 12. Taking place at Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Church, the takeover will feature performances from Folkways artists such as Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Dom Flemons, Alice Gerrard, and more. Folkways has also announced a variety of new 75th Anniversary merchandise for sale based on classic Folkways Records designs.
About Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the “National Museum of Sound,” makes available close to 60,000 tracks in physical and digital format as the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian, with a reach of 80 million people per year. A division of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the nonprofit label is dedicated to supporting cultural diversity and increased understanding among people through the documentation, preservation, production and dissemination of sound. Its mission is the legacy of Moses Asch, who founded Folkways Records in 1948 to document “people’s music” from around the world.