Folklorist’s Field Recordings Named American Treasure
Friday, March 27, 2015
Posted by: Lorraine Cashman
Radio coverage of FDR's funeral, The Doors, Radiohead, and field recordings by
Jeff Todd Titon are among the American treasures inducted this week to the
Library of Congress National Recording Registry.
Every year, the Library of Congress adds 25 recordings to
the Registry that are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically
significant" and are at least 10 years old. The recordings represent a
wide range of styles and genres, including songs, albums, spoken word and
theatrical recordings, and this year, a collection of 600 wax-cylinder
recordings documenting turn of the 20th-century "snapshots" of
"Old Regular Baptists: Lined-Out Hymnody from Southeastern
Kentucky" (Smithsonian Folkways 40106) is a collection of hymns representing the
oldest English-language religious music in oral tradition in North America.
Titon, a current member of the AFS Executive Board, recorded the songs
performed by Indian Bottom Association singers in 1992-3; the album was released
With this honor, Titon joins less than a half-dozen other folklorists and ethnomusicologists
who have received the same recognition for their research: among them are Frances Densmore,
Franz Boas, George Herzog, Dave McAllester, and Alan Lomax.
Titon writes, "Beyond preservation in an archive, this recognition
will help the Old Regular Baptists redouble their own efforts to continue their
musical traditions in the face of cultural, economic, and environmental
threats. For more than 150 years they have been successful in resisting change
to their singing and other aspects of belief and practice, but today they face
new threats because of the region’s dependence on a single, declining industry
(coal mining), and because of that industry’s increasing reliance on
mountaintop removal, which is causing floods, earthquakes, and wreaking havoc
in the regional ecosystem.”
the full story and list of honorees, see "News from the Library of Congress: National Recording
Registry To 'Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive'” (March 25, 2015) at http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2015/15-041.html.