This blog is for anyone with an interest in music or the story of America. American heritage music is woven into the fabric of the United States. Much of the music in America today is part of a continuum that reaches back to Colonial America and stretches across the Atlantic Ocean to the Old World. Exploring this body of music can deepen one’s understanding and appreciation not just of music, but also of our story as Americans and the varied people who have lived our history. Engage with the strength and beauty that have emerged from the often troubled history of the United States. This is American heritage music. This is your birthright. Own it.
American heritage music includes, but is not limited to, traditional folk songs, fiddle tunes, ballads (both Old and New World), sea shanties, railroad and cowboy songs, Appalachian, ragtime, spirituals, work songs, minstrel, blues, jazz, jug band, rhythm and blues, old-time, country and western, bluegrass, and rock & roll.
Music, instruments, and songs tell the story of the ordinary and extraordinary people who have populated this country and propelled it into the 21st century: colonists, pioneers, sailors, lumberjacks, immigrants, ’49ers, farmers, mountaineers, slaves, soldiers, cowboys, railroaders, factory workers, activists, and others. Not only do the lyrics directly reflect the hopes, fears, struggles, sorrows, triumphs, and humanity of the real people who lived history, but to follow the path taken by the music itself is to understand the great cultural stew that is the United States of America.
Since before the country declared independence, songs and musical styles were brought to the New World by British colonists, African slaves, and immigrants from different parts of the world. New songs and styles grew out of encounters between these diverse people as well as the unique American experience itself. As America changed, grew, and pushed its boundaries, so did the music.