Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • Icelandic American Song

    Article. Part of a multi-format online collection entitled "California Gold: Northern California Music from the Thirties," the songs were collected as part of The WPA California Folk Music Project, a joint effort of the Work Projects Administration, the Library of Congress, and the Music Division of the University of California, Berkeley, to document folk music being actively performed in Northern California. The project, which ...

  • Songs of the Zionist Movement in America

    After the war, the British took control of Palestine, allowing Jewish settlements to develop and thrive. Jewish immigrants purchased land on which to settle. Among the needs for these settlers was a common language, as settlers came from various parts of Europe and North America. Hebrew, which at the time was a language used only in religious practice that many Jews did not speak ...

  • Armenian American Song

    The Armenian American community has fostered several notable names in the American vocal music world including the operatic soprano Cathy Berberian (1925-1983); the pop singer Cher, whose father was Armenian (she was born Cheryl Sarkisian); the theatre director Rouben Mamoulian (1897-1987) who introduced the modern musical to Broadway with Oklahoma! in 1943, and the Los Angeles-based heavy metal band System of a Down, whose ...

  • Scottish American Song

    The most significant impact of Scottish music on American song has been its influence on American song genres, often coupled with the influence of Irish song. Scholars today are looking at the influence of the religious songs of early Scottish settlers on the development of African American spirituals and Gospel. The roots of country music come from a mixture of Americanized adaptations of Scottish ...

  • Chinese American Song

    The organization Music From China was founded in 1984 in New York City with the aim of introducing American audiences to Chinese music. The Library of Congress collection includes a webcast of instrumental Chinese music performed by members of Music From China: The Ann Yao Trio: Traditional Chinese Zheng Music from Florida, July 27, 2011.

    • Date: 2011-07-27
  • Croatian American Song

    In the twentieth century as a result of the influence of American pop music, the tamburitza ensembles have developed a more diverse sound. The repertoire of the tamburitza groups today combines traditional songs in the Serbo-Croatian language, narodnjak songs (contemporary, accordion-led urban folk/pop tunes) and classic American pop songs. In contemporary America the tamburitza is embraced by Croatians, Serbs and Slovenians. The Bajich Brothers, ...

    • Date: 2008-09-17
  • Laotian American Song and Dance

    So among both the ethnic Lao and the Hmong, community events frequently include developing styles of Americanized music and also presentations that introduce traditional songs to younger generations with the idea that the new and the old styles can exist together.

  • Basque American Song

    Starting in the 1960s, folk bands like Ordago and Gaupasa formed to play a combination of traditional Basque music and popular songs. Since then, groups like Amuma Says No have brought a more contemporary edge to Basque music by mixing Basque and American instrumentation and rhythms. A webcast of the performance of Amuma Says No performing both traditional and contemporary songs at the Library ...

  • Swedish American Song

    After World War I the United States put severe limits on immigration, greatly reducing the number of new Swedish immigrants. Swedish Americans, always a highly literate and ambitious group, strove to assimilate. By the mid-twentieth century the vast majority of Swedish Americans spoke only English. Professional variety entertainment by and for Swedish speakers had largely disappeared by the1950s. Festivals and choral music also declined. ...

  • Puerto Rican Song

    The Puerto Rican musical theatre artists such as Rita Moreno and Chita Rivera have enjoyed long careers on the Broadway stage. Meanwhile the Puerto Rican singer-guitarist-composer José Felciano is known for many international hits including the 1970 Christmas single "Feliz navidad."

  • Malian American Song

    There are many well-known Malian singers who tour extensively in the United States, or that have taken up more-or-less full-time residency in the country, such as Adjaratou "Tapani" Demba and Makane Kouyaté. In recent years Malian performers fled their homeland in droves as newly influential followers of an ultraconservative brand of Islamic law, in this moderate Muslim country, have violently banned most artists. This ...

  • Persian American Song

    Today Loga Ramin Torkian is composing and performing as a member of the group Niyaz, which has continued to blend traditional instruments with synthesized music while also recording and performing acoustic music using traditional instruments. The group draws from many traditions, including Sufi chant and Persian Radif. As both Torkian and his wife, Niyaz lead singer Azam Ali, spent some of their youth in ...

  • Finnish American Song

    Today, choral music continues to be sung in parts of the United States among the Finnish American community. The Naselle Finn-Am Choir, a community chorus that sings everything from Finnish folk songs to gospel songs in both Finnish and English, anchors the lineup of the biennial Finnish American Folk Festival held in Naselle, Washington. A modern day and creative expression of this continuing tradition ...

  • African American Song

    From rappers like André 3000 (1975–) and pop stars like Michael Jackson (1958–2009), to opera singers like Denyce Graves (1964–) and gospel artists like Yolanda Adams (1961–), African American vocal artists continue to shake up and shape the musical culture of the United States in profound ways.

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  • Irish American Song

    In Addition to John McCormack, notable Irish American vocal music artists from the past include Victor Herbert (1859-1924), a Dublin-born conductor and popular composer of operettas; Bing Crosby (1901-1977), a singer and movie star; Gene Kelly (1912–1996), a singer, dancer and movie star; and Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002), a singer and movie star. Contemporary, well-known vocal artists of Irish American descent include Bruce Springsteen, Shania ...

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  • French American Song

    The worlds of French opera and French American folksong came together in the person of Eva Gauthier, a Canadian mezzo-soprano who sang operatic roles but specialized in recitals and concerts of arias and art songs. A world traveler as well as a singer, she sang throughout Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand before World War I, and lived in the United States during ...

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  • Jewish Song in America

    Composers who wrote for the Yiddish stage explored themes of Jewish history and experience. But, in the early twentieth century, those who composed songs for mainstream audiences usually felt that they needed to keep their Jewish identity private. In the later twentieth century and beyond there has been a return to themes from Jewish culture and history, presented for all audiences. For example, Leonard ...

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  • Italian American Song

    In the later twentieth century Italian American vocal artists continued to exert a major influence on popular culture in the United States. While famous Italian Ameircan singers such as Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, and Dean Martin were influenced by their Italian heritage in their English-Language recordings, recordings of Italian-language songs sometimes became hits for various American popular singers, such as the traditional song, "Santa ...

  • German American and Russian German American Song

    The composer Kurt Weill (1900-1950) made a significant impact on both American classical and popular music culture with his musical works for the stage. Weill fled Nazi Germany in the mid-1930s, eventually seeking citizenship in the United States with his wife Lotte Lenya (who originated many of her husband's most important female roles.) Works like "The Threepenny Opera," "Happy End" and "Lady in the ...

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  • Spanish American Song

    The music of Spanish, or Sephardic, Jews of the Iberian Peninsula has also found a place in the United States. They were expelled from Spain in the fifteenth century, and subsequently migrated to many other countries including the Dutch colony that would become New York. The historic language of Sephardic Jews is a dialect of Spanish called Ladino, but they adopted the language of ...

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  • Portuguese American Song

    Traditional Portuguese vocal music forms find a contemporary expression in the music of Portuguese American rock bands. The ensembles play standard rock instruments like electric guitar, drums and electric bass, and perform at parties, showers, weddings and other social events. Their repertoire ranges from traditional Portuguese songs to rock and disco music. Acclaimed Portuguese American vocal artists include Anthony Joseph "Joe Perry" Pereira, a ...

  • Bahamian American Song

    A relatively new style of music in the 1930s and 40s when these recordings were made was jazz, using the piano and brass instead of, or sometimes in addition to, traditional Bahamian instruments. For example, a traditional version of the Bahamian song "Hoist Up the John B Sail" is sung by Robert Butler accompanied by Theodore "Tea Roll" Rolle. Rolle, a jazz composer, singer, ...

  • Mexican American Song

    The most well known son jarocho is "La Bamba," which the Mexican American pop singer Ritchie Valens (1941-1959) popularized. Son Jarocho has become part of the fabric of the work of an array of contemporary Mexican American pop and rock singers including Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, Los Lobos and Lila Downs.