March 14, 2019 Library of Congress Announces 2019 Homegrown Concert Series

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The American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress will bring traditional music and dance drawn from communities across and beyond the United States to the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium stage for mid-day cultural concerts throughout the summer.

The “Homegrown: The Music of America” concert series is presented by AFC in cooperation with the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the Folklore Society of Greater Washington. The series brings the multicultural richness of American folk arts from around the country — and a few artists from further afield — to the nation’s capital.

This year’s series will launch in conjunction with International Francophonie Day, which is an observance that celebrates the French language and Francophone culture. Award-winning Canadian band Vishtèn will perform their blend of “neo-traditional” compositions with updated versions of French and Celtic genres on March 21.

Concerts are at noon in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, unless otherwise stated, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The performances are free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

The series includes the following performances. Additional performances may be added.

Acadian music from Prince Edward Island
Thursday, March 21
Vishtèn is an award-winning Canadian band that performs both traditional and original Acadian music with rock energy. The trio comprises multi-instrumentalists Emmanuelle and Pastelle LeBlanc from the Evangeline Region of Prince Edward Island, and Magdalen Islands’ native, Pascal Miousse. Located off the north coast of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island is home to a small but thriving Francophone Acadian community with a rich tradition of song and instrumental music. Nearby, the even smaller archipelago of the Magdalen Islands (les Îles de la Madeleine) is predominantly Francophone, recognized for its distinctive dialect, songs and unique fiddling style. Together, they pay homage to their traditions and to the historic and strong musical connections between their two island Acadian communities.

This concert is being presented in celebration of International Francophone Culture Month with support from the Embassy of Canada.

Alash Ensemble 
Music from the Republic of Tuva
Wednesday, March 27
The Alash Ensemble are masters of Tuvan throat singing, a remarkable technique for singing multiple pitches at the same time. Masters of traditional Tuvan instruments as well as the art of throat singing, Alash are deeply committed to traditional Tuvan music and culture. Located in the deep south of Silberia, the Tuva Republic is one of Russia’s most isolated and culturally unique regions.

The ensemble comprises four talented artists. Bady-Dorzhu Ondar performs vocals and plays igil and guitar. Ayan-ool Sam performs vocals and plays doshpuluur, igil, and guitar. Ayan Shirizhik performs vocals and plays kengirge, shyngyrash, shoor, murgu, and xomus. Sean Quirk operates as the interpreter and manager of the group. The ensemble is named for the Alash River, which runs through the northwestern region of Tuva.

This performance will be held in the Whittall Pavilion, ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building.

Afro-Fusion Music from Zimbabwe
Monday, April 15
Mokoomba is a six-piece band that hails from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls is both the name of the town and the name of the spectacular falls on the great Zambesi River. The band members chose the name Mokoomba, a Tonga word that signifies great respect for the river.

Band members Mathias Muzaza, Trustworth Samende, Abundance Mutori, Donald Moyo, Ndaba Coster Moyo, and Miti Mugande grew up together in Chinotimba Township, Victoria Falls, and share similar cultural influences. The group performs music celebrating their Zimbabwean culture and traditions interpreted for modern audiences, using several languages, including Tonga, Shona, Luvala, Ndebele, and English. They describe their music as a fusion of traditional music fused with local, regional and international influences. Facing the challenges of social division in Zimbabwe, their music is now international and the band has performed in over 40 countries.

Cora Harvey Armstrong
African American Gospel from Virginia
Thursday, May 9
Cora Harvey Armstrong
 is a gospel singer, piano player, songwriter, choir director, and bandleader born and raised in King and Queen County, Virginia. For more than forty years she has been a favorite gospel music performer at festivals and celebrations around the country and abroad. Armstrong has toured and lectured on gospel music in Japan and Europe, and is a sought after artist, pianist, psalmist and preacher. During this performance, she will be joined by her sisters Clara and Virginia, her nieces Kimberly, Ruthy and, Clarissa and her band.

Eva Salina and Peter Stan
Serbian and Balkan Romani Music
Thursday, May 16
California-grown, Brooklyn-based Eva Salina is a groundbreaking interpreter of Balkan Romani songs. The duo, Eva Salina and Peter Stan, continue the interrupted legacy of empowered female voices in Balkan Romani, also known as gypsy music, music through the amplifying of voices of past generations of Romani women musicians. The duo employs tenderness, grace, passion and a commitment to keeping these songs alive and evolving, while inspiring and teaching young people in the Balkans and the Balkan diaspora to participate in their own living traditions.

African Sons of God
A Cappella Singing from South Africa
Thursday, June 13
African Sons of God is a choral singing group from South Africa, formed in 2009. The group sings in the a cappella style known as Isicathamiya, which is best known from the international success of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The leader of African Sons of God is Derrick Ogle, who is a former member of Junior Mambazo, the group formed by children of the original members of Ladysmith.

African Sons of God recorded their first album in 2013 and is working on a second, which will feature a tribute to Nelson Mandela. A portion of their earnings from music is donated to causes helping schoolchildren buy uniforms and supplies for school, an important issue to many African students.

Los Cenzontles
Mexican American Folk Music from California 
Tuesday, June 25
Los Cenzontles (Nahuatl for The Mockingbirds) is a Mexican American group, cultural arts academy and media production studio based in San Pablo, California.  Los Cenzontles was begun in 1989 by Eugene Rodriguez as part of a California Arts Council artist residency with the goal to create a place for area youth to learn traditional Mexican music and dance. 

Los Cenzontles has revived and promoted little known styles of Mexican regional music since 1989, through research, performance, education, recordings and videos. Los Cenzontles was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1994, and began performing, recording and touring widely with several styles of Mexican music. The group has since released over 30 albums and toured throughout the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and Mexico.

Cedric Watson
Cajun, Creole and Zydeco Music from Texas
Thursday, July 25
Cedric Watson, a four-time GRAMMY-nominated fiddler, singer, accordionist and songwriter, is one of the brightest contemporary talents to emerge in Cajun, Creole and Zydeco music over the last decade. 

He has played with some of the great names in Creole music, including Dexter Ardoin and the Creole Ramblers and Jeffrey Broussard and the Creole Cowboys. Cedric continues to explore the roots of Louisiana's Creole music with his own band, Bijou Creole. Cedric's creative style and obvious joy in playing make him an engaging and exciting performer. Moving with ease between fiddle and accordion, he has an entertaining natural playfulness on stage. The Cedric Watson Trio also includes multi-instrumentalist Chris Stafford, of the band Feufollet, and rubboardist Desireé Champagne.

Lakota John Locklear
Slide Guitar Blues from North Carolina
Wednesday, Aug. 7
Lakota John Locklear blends traditional styles of the Delta and Piedmont acoustic blues with bottleneck slide guitar. He grew up listening to his father’s music collection and learned to love the blues. He began playing the harmonica at seven years old, and the guitar at nine. 

Lakota John will be joined in concert by members of his family, who belong to the Lumbee Nation, which includes 50,000 members who live in or near Lumberton, NC. The Lumbee Nation is the largest Native American tribe east of the Mississippi.

The Murphy Beds
Irish Music from New York
Thursday, Aug. 15
The Murphy Beds is the duo of Eamon O’Leary and Jefferson Hamer, who present traditional and original folk songs with close harmonies and deft instrumental arrangements on bouzouki, guitar and mandolin. Whatever the source — songs of the Irish travelers, Arkansas spirituals, or their own compositions — their arrangements feature the same carefully wrought interplay of voices and strings.

Each year the American Folklife Center hosts a concert for one of the recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. The concert will be held on Sept. 18 and co-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Council for the Traditional Arts. Artists will be announced after the fellowship announcement early summer. For more information, visit

Concert performances are recorded, and most are later made available on the Library of Congress website. The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to “preserve and present American folklife” through programs of research, documentation, archival presentation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The Homegrown concert series began the following year in 1977. The center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world. For more information on the American Folklife Center and the Homegrown concert series, visit

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PR 19- 031S
ISSN 0731-3527