The Taylor Family in Chapel Hill

Kate TaylorThe Southern Historical Collection and Southern Folklife Collection will be hosting singer-songwriter Kate Taylor and her daughter Liz Witham on Tuesday, February 9th, for an event titled “The Taylor Family in Chapel Hill”, featuring a screening of  Witham’s documentary film Kate Taylor: Tunes from the Tipi and Other Songs From Home, a Q&A with the filmmakers, and a musical performance by Kate Taylor. The event is free and open to the public.

February 9th – “The Taylor Family in Chapel Hill”
Frank Porter Graham Student Union Auditorium
Reception begins at 5:00 pm.
Event begins at 5:45 pm.
For more information, contact Liza Terll at Friends of the Library: or (919) 962-4207

Carl Smith, 1927-2010

SFC_p1575Country Music Hall-of-Famer Carl Smith (pictured here in a 1953 Columbia records publicity shot) came to prominence in the 1950s  as performer on WSM’s “Grand Ole Opry”, and scored 30 Billboard top-10 country hits that decade, including “Let’s Live a Little” and “Hey Joe!”.  From 1952 to 1956 Smith was married to June Carter, and their daughter Carlene Carter would go on to have a successful music career of her own.
Smith was also a familiar face on television, first on ABC’s country music variety series Ozark Jubilee and later as the host of Carl Smith’s Country Music Hall on Canadian TV from 1964-1969.
In the late ’70s Smith and his second wife, the country singer Goldie Hill, retired from the music business to raise horses on their ranch in Franklin, Tennessee, where Smith died on Saturday at the age of 82.
Listen below to a clip of Carl Smith performing 1954’s “Loose Talk”, his last #1 country hit, from one of the dozens of Carl Smith records in the SFC: Loose Talk (Carl Smith)

Martin Luther King in Birmingham, 1963

250px-Martin_Luther_King_Jr_NYWTSIn the spring of 1963 Guy and Candie Carawan traveled to Birmingham, Alabama to participate in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Birmingham campaign to desegregate businesses and public facilities in that city.  Fortunately they were able to record several mass meetings attended there, including speeches by the Rev. Ralph Abernathy and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the clip below, from tape FT-3648 in the Guy and Candie Carawan Collection, Dr. King addresses the gathered crowd on “the power of unarmed truth”:

A Dog For Outer Space

Goebel Reeves, the Depression-era singer-songwriter better known as “The Texas Drifter”, penned plenty of songs about the hobo life, including his friend Jimmie Rodgers’ hit “Hobo’s Lullaby”. While Reeves certainly crafted his share of songs about the lonely freedom that was the human hobo’s lot in life, he had a soft spot for his four-legged friends, as well.
Reeves wrote at least four songs about dogs, including the heartstring-tugging “The Drifter’s Pup” and “I Love My Dog”. Reeves didn’t shy away from portraying the darker side of canine life, either, as is evident from titles like “The Poisoned Dog”, found on an undated radio transcription disc, and the chilling account of “A Dog for Outer Space”, reproduced here:



Laika the cosmonaut dog was launched into space on Nov. 3, 1957. These lyrics were included in a letter sent to Australian record collector John Edwards  on December 10th of that year, and can now be found in the Southern Folklife Collection Artist Name File Collection.

SFC Streaming Radio Is Here!

30015_f122Southern Folklife Collection Streaming Radio is finally live! Below are links to five (loosely genre-based) radio streams from the holdings of the Southern Folklife Collection.
(Links work best with iTunes, Winamp, or VLC media players):
Channel 1: Southern Folklife Collection – Old-time Music
Channel 2: Southern Folklife Collection – Country and Bluegrass
Channel 3: Southern Folklife Collection – Folk Revival
Channel 4: Southern Folklife Collection – Rhythm, Blues, and Boogie
Channel 5: Southern Folklife Collection – SFC Mix
The purpose of our radio stream is to make our holdings available for educational use. These streams are still in an early stage of development  and will continue to be curated, tweaked, and updated in the coming weeks, so keep coming back (the links will also be on our homepage and in the “Streaming Radio” tab at the top of this blog). Happy listening!

New Addition: The Erik Darling Papers

20434-f1With the new year the SFC is pleased to announce our newest addition: The Erik Darling Papers.
Songwriter and musician Erik Darling (1933-2008) first came to fame as a founding member (with Bob Carey and Alan Arkin) of the 1950s folk group the Tarriers, whose 1956 recording of  “The Banana Boat Song” (aka “Day-O”) sparked a national craze for calypso music. When Pete Seeger left the Weavers in 1958, Darling was asked to take his place. Darling remained a Weaver until 1962 when he formed the Rooftop Singers with Bill Svanoe and Lynne Taylor. Their version of Gus Cannon’s “Walk Right In” spent 3 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1963.
Darling also released several solo albums and wrote many instrument instruction books, as well as a 2008 autobiography, I’d Give My Life: A Journey by Folk Music .
The Erik Darling collection contains correspondence, scores, sheet music, song lyrics, dozens of photographs, audio recordings, and other items related to Erik Darling and his musical career. Of particular interest are recordings of phone interviews conducted by Darling while compiling his autobiography, including interviews with Guy Carawan, John Cohen, Billy Faier, Bess Hawes, Pete Seeger, and Mary Travers.
Listen to clips below of the Tarriers performing “The Banana Boat Song”:
Banana Boat Song
and the Rooftop Singers performing “Walk Right In”:
Walk Right In