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Joshua CafferyAppointment: Alan Lomax Fellow, 2013-2014

Area of study: Folklore

Affiliation(s): Indiana University Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology

Kluge Center project: Traditional Music of Coastal Louisiana

Residency: August 2013 – May 2014

Joshua Caffery held the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies in 2013-2014. A folklorist and musician, Caffery completed his doctoral degree at University of Louisiana, Lafayette. His first book, “Traditional Music in Coastal Louisiana: The 1934 Lomax Recordings,” was published by LSU Press in November 2013. Caffery received a Grammy nomination in 2011 for his work on the 2010 Feufollet album En Couleurs, nominated for Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album.

Caffery’s research at the Kluge Center explored Louisiana song traditions documented for the Library of Congress by John and Alan Lomax in 1934. Caffery explored the largely unexcavated corpus of traditional songs recorded by the Lomaxes in this rich musical region. Examining field recordings and lyrical evidence in the American Folklife Center Lomax collection, Caffery unearthed linkages among the American South, the Caribbean, South America and Africa in Louisiana Cajun and Creole music, bringing to light the transnational, trans-Atlantic interconnectedness of the culture.

Caffery’s research resulted in the creation of a web portal that places online for the first time many of the recordings from the Lomaxes’ historic 1934 trip. In particular, the recordings from South-Central Louisiana, known sometimes as “French Louisiana,” “Cajun Louisiana,” or “Evangeline Country” are now easily available. The audio recordings on the website link to images and card catalogue information held by the Library of Congress, encouraging more scholarly access to detailed information about the collections. Caffery is working with Louisiana teachers to develop open-source lesson plans that employ the site’s resources.

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