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Jacob Evanson: Song Catcher

The following post originally appeared in the summer 2015 issue of Western Pennsylvania History Magazine. In the late 1930s, when Jacob A. Evanson joined the staff of the Pittsburgh Board of Education as special supervisor of vocal instruction, folklorists and musicologists were scouring America in search of old songs before they disappeared. The recording expeditions…

Quel Mazzolin di Fiori: I Campagnoli and the Italian American Folk Revival

  I Campagnoli marching in a parade in downtown Pittsburgh, 1980s. I Campagnoli Papers & Photographs, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center. Gift of Mary Ferro. Musicologist Alan Lomax stated that “the first function of music, especially of folk music, is to produce a feeling of security for the listener by voicing the…

A Jazz Legacy: Mary Lou Williams

Portrait of Mary Lou Williams, New York, N.Y., c. 1946. Photo by William P. Gottlieb, courtesy of the Library of Congress. As an American jazz hub during the 1930s, Pittsburgh propelled one musician to break jazz’s all-male barrier and become one of the most innovative artists of all time. Raised in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood,…