Blog Archives

June 13, 2019

Trinidad & Tobago Baltimore Steel Orchestra

2013-14 Folklife Apprenticeship Award recipient Founded in Baltimore in 1971, the Trinidad & Tobago Baltimore Steel Orchestra is led by master steel pan player and teacher Richard Semper. Across almost five decades, Semper has taught generations in the region, while his orchestra has had a celebrated career representing Maryland’s Trinidadian community. The steel pan (also known as steelpans, steel drums...

June 13, 2019

Meki’s Tamure Polynesian Arts Group

Drumming and dancing have become symbols to the world of Tahiti’s and French Polynesia’s proud cultural heritage. The Toalepai family has shared these traditions with audiences in Baltimore for nearly half a century. Master Polynesian drummer Meki Toalepai’s father arrived in the U.S. from Tahiti in the early 1960s as part of a traveling drum and dance group. He eventually...

June 13, 2019

Marimba Linda Xelajú

2009-10 Folklife Apprenticeship Award recipient Silver Spring’s Marimba Linda Xelajú is a family ensemble that carries on the tradition of Guatemalan marimba playing. The marimba is at the core of Guatemala’s musical traditions; it is a musical instrument with West African roots that can be found throughout northern Central America and southern Mexico. The marimba is Guatemala’s official national instrument,...

June 13, 2019

Lustre Quartet & Electric Avenue Quartet

The all-female group Lustre Quartet, the 2018 Sweet Adelines International Quartet Champions, among several other notable regional and international awards, are masters of the barbershop quartet tradition. One of the most widely known a cappella harmony singing traditions, the barbershop quartet style consists of four-part harmony, but not necessarily four singers. The tradition can be traced to 19th-century African American...

June 13, 2019

Lafayette Gilchrist

2007-08 and 2009-10 Folklife Apprenticeship Award recipient Lafayette Gilchrist is a D.C.-born, Baltimore-based self-taught pianist/composer whose playing rings with influences that span nearly a century of African American vernacular music—from stride piano and funk to go-go and hip hop. Gilchrist taught himself piano while attending the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). He has since fronted his own group, and...

June 13, 2019

Katherine Fahey

Katherine Fahey is an artist, puppeteer, designer, and nationally beloved creator of scrolled panoramas known as crankies, branded as such for the hand cranks necessary to move the scroll—and, literally, the story—forward. While moving panoramas of all sorts have been used as storytelling media for centuries, Fahey is a leader among the new generation of artists rediscovering and reviving this...

June 13, 2019

Daryl Davis

2008-09 Folklife Apprenticeship Award recipient A child of a Foreign Service officer, boogie-woogie pianist Daryl Davis was born in Chicago but spent much of his childhood bouncing around the globe with his parents. Chicago did leave an impression though; it was here that Davis absorbed the sounds of African American musicians from the Deep South who had traveled North to...

June 13, 2019

Cheick Hamala Diabate

2008-09 Folklife Apprenticeship Award recipient Born in Mali and based in Maryland, Cheick Hamala Diabate is a steward of the 800-year-old West African griot tradition. Oral historians, singers and musicians, griots belong to a special social caste and are part of a hereditary lineage passed from parent to child. The son of two prominent griot families, Cheick was trained from...

June 13, 2019

Carolyn Rapkievian & Kristine Antanesian

Master Armenian dancer Carolyn Rapkievian has been teaching Kristine Antanesian traditional Armenian dances from the Anatolia region. Many of these dances are in danger of dying out due to a long history of political and social repression that culminated in the 1915 expulsion and genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey. This tragedy saw the deaths of hundreds of thousands of...

June 13, 2019

Brendan Mulvihill & Emily Martin

2018 - 19 Folklife Apprenticeship Award recipient Fiddler Brendan Mulvihill is one of the finest Irish fiddlers in the U.S. and Ireland, and a keeper of a long Irish musical legacy. He was born in England in 1954 into a family of musicians, including his father, Martin, a master fiddler from County Limerick, Ireland, and a National Heritage Fellow, the...

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