Produced by the Sound Studies Institute and Northern Lights Folk Club, the annual Women of Folkways concert is dedicated to the celebration by women of women in the Folkways records catalogue. In conjunction with the Asch Collection, the Women of Folkways concert forms an important connection between the Sound Studies Institute and its forebear folkwaysAlive!, and represents a belief in the value of institutional memory and a commitment to the spirit with which our institute was founded.
The roots of SSI are in Moses Asch’s belief in the value of “anything that is sound, from Indonesian folk music to James Joyce reading his own poetry.” This philosophy drove the production of many Folkways records which can now be placed within a continuum with contemporary academic disciplines associated with SSI, such as linguistics, bioacoustics, sonic ecology, ethnography, and more.
The Asch collection also houses numerous folk music records by women artists singing about political and social issues from their own unique perspectives. From legends like Peggy Seeger and Odetta to lesser-known or obscure artists like Ginni Clemmens and Merle Markland, women and womens’ experiences have always been an important part of Folkways records and folk music in general, but discrimination and systemic barriers mean many important women artists remain yet to receive recognition. The Women of Folkways concert is our way of promoting the voices of women folk music artists, both past and present.
This year, the concert has expanded into a mini-tour of Alberta folk clubs, with concerts in Edmonton, Vermillion, and Calgary followed by a panel discussion featuring all five performers and moderated by SSI director Scott Smallwood. In addition, a one-hour video recording of the Edmonton show will be made available for viewing online a week after the concert for those who are not able to attend in-person.