National Recording Preservation Foundation Distributes $50,000 in 5 Grants for Audio Preservation
November 5, 2019
The National Recording Preservation Foundation’s Grant Program announced today the awarding of $50,000 awarded in 5 grants for the preservation of music, broadcast and spoken word. The grants cover collections, culture and history housed in United States-based collections. The grants are made possible by funds authorized through The Library of Congress Sound Recording and Film Preservation Programs Reauthorization Act of 2016, secured through the leadership of the Library of Congress, and the contributions of public-spirited donors.
“It is our commitment to help preserve audio recordings in a broad variety of areas by partnering with the country’s most effective archives, not-for-profit media outlets, libraries and foundations,” says NRPF Executive Director Gerald Seligman. “For this series of grants, we sought to support projects in broadcast, music, journalism and spoken word, all the areas of our concentration.”
The National Recording Preservation Foundation mission is to help find, preserve and make accessible the recorded history of the United States and help recuperate collections in libraries, universities, foundations and public broadcasting stations.
The grants went to the following organizations:
Peabody Award-winning Afropop Worldwide had been bringing the music and artists of Africa and its diaspora to over 100 US radio stations since 1988. Hosted by Cameroonian Georges Collinet, the series is distributed by Public Radio International. The grant will help fund the preservation of field recordings and interviews with the seminal artists of these regions that were made over a period of 20 years. Audio includes many artists who created styles that have now traveled the world. “We were lucky to travel in Africa and the Caribbean at a time when legends like Franco, Tabu Ley, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens and so many others were still on the scene,” says Sean Barlow, CEO. “Our interviews and informal recordings are a time capsule to the golden age of African pop, and we are so pleased that these recordings are now being preserved and catalogued for future fans and researchers.”
When awarding the Peabody, director Dr. Jeffrey P. Jones said, “Afropop Worldwide is a pioneer in the ‘world music’ movement, illuminating the richness and diversity of African and African diasporic cultures, while archiving and fortifying its work on its robust website. It is simply a treat for the ears, and it deserves much support for its ongoing and new projects.”
“Looking ahead, we hope to create a platform where all our archival materials will be available,” says Senior Producer Banning Eyre. “And if we do it right, we hope other holders of related material will entrust them to us and we will build an even larger resource on the history of African and African diaspora music. “
The National Recording Preservation Foundation is proud to offer this support.
For Field and Festival Recordings, Archives of Appalachia, East Tennessee State University
Bluegrass, old-time, traditional Appalachian music – from 1961 all the way up to 1989 East Tennessee State University recorded yearly festivals of vernacular music. Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Bill Monroe, The Carter Family, Johnny Cash, Flatt & Scruggs, Doc Watson, Del McCoury, J.D. Crowe, Clarence Tom Ashley, the Osborne Brothers – and dozens more performing for home audiences at their artistic peaks. “The Archives is fortunate to have hundreds of rare festival and field recordings in our collections,” says Director, Jeremy A. Smith. “This grant will help us to make the material more accessible to researchers than we’ve ever been able to, and it will help us to make sure we’re preserving the content in line with the highest of professional best practices.”
The grant will help fund the restoration and digitization of over 800 analog recordings and 2,000 hours of audio of vernacular music festivals and field recordings, which feature bluegrass, old-time, and traditional Appalachian music. Many of these recordings are the only known copies to exist, containing unique performances and verbal contextualization that provide irreplaceable information on local performance practices. Once completed the Archive will work to provide public access to this material, thereby offering musicians and cultural historians from across the nation new opportunities for performance and research.
For Oral History Interviews in Georgia, The Atlanta History Center
Between 1966 and 1968, Georgia State University students spread out to interview common folk: men, women, and children in Georgia and across the southeast on topics including crafts, storytelling, superstitions, jokes, remedies, songs and ballads, and local traditions. The interviews provide unique insight into Southern Appalachian culture during the twentieth century and will contribute to the teaching, study, and presentation of Southern Folklore.
“The Atlanta History Center is prioritizing the digitization of our audio visual collections because they are at high preservation risk due to their fragility and rapid technology obsolescence,” says Leah Lefkowitz, Manuscript Archivist. “With the grant funding provided by the National Recording Preservation Foundation, we will be able to start digitizing one of our most valuable research collections, the Georgia Folklore Archives. We are very excited to start the journey toward digitizing and cataloging these unique materials.”
The AHC will continue to partner with Preserve South for this project, a local audio and video engineering firm that specializes in media migration. Upon grant completion, the content will be freely open to the public; and afterward, we will increase accessibility by publishing records on several online platforms, including on our finding aids database, our library catalog Terminus, and Album, the public access point to CONTENTdm.
For KUT, Austin, Texas, to continue preservation on two broadcast projects, “University Forum” and “Dwight MacDonald on Film.”
“KUT is very happy to accept funding from the NRPF in order to continue preservation of its collections “University Forum” and “Dwight MacDonald on Film,” says Laura Willis, Digital Assets and Operations Coordinator. “Digitizing these reels in order to make them available online will provide a wealth of exciting, wide-ranging local and global research material.” The material covers a wide range of public figures including Stokely Carmichael, Dick Gregory, Joseph Heller, Walt Rostow, Dr. Page Keeton, Walter Cronkite, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Bill Moyers, Coretta Scott King and Barbara Jordan. The digitized broadcasts are given wide public access through a collaboration with the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, which will stream the programs online.
The University Forum series, says Rebecca McInroy, Executive Producer/host KUT Radio, “not only gives us a chance to listen to discussions and lectures from greats like B.F. Sinner and Gloria Steinem, it also allows for moments in time to be preserved: like the time when Allen Ginsberg sang the poetry of William Blake with a drum circle; the time Hunter S. Thompson decried the war in Vietnam; or when the head of the UT law school sang an introduction to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”
Finally, says Rebecca Oullette, assistant archivist, the “collection is valuable not just for the varied subject matter—from politics and social issues to arts and sciences—but for the historical perspective of people addressing issues with firsthand engagement. It is a moving experience to hear the voices of Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford on their presidencies, Chinua Achebe on writing, and Buck O’Neil on playing baseball in the Negro League. This collection is sure make researchers everywhere very happy!”
For NPR – Voices in the Wind, Hosted by Oscar Brand
Voices in the Wind was an early, pace-setting program that helped establish NPR as an expansive home for popular culture, one dedicated to exploring the fullest picture of the creative experience.
“Voices in the Wind established NPR’s reputation as the leading curator of the arts,” says Bill Siemering, NPR’s founding Programming Director and a former contributor to Voices in the Wind. “There was no other place in broadcasting where listeners could hear the voices of so many writers and other artists during this period.”
In 255 episodes and over 2100 story segments, host Oscar Brand interviewed such luminaries as James Baldwin, Merle Haggard, Alice Walker, John Lennon, Aaron Copland, Gamble Rogers, Henry Fonda, Ansel Adams, Pete Seeger, Letta Mbulu, Margaret Atwood, Marlene Dietrich, Alvin Ailey, Elia Kazan, Patti Smith, David Mamet, Claudette Colbert, Fred Rogers, Dolly Parton, Edward Gorey, Nikki Giovanni, Itzhak Perlman, Marian Anderson, Shel Silverstein and Lucille Clifton. That is anyone’s idea of diversity and range.
“Oscar Brand… knew an enormous number of singers, songwriters, authors and theater artists,” says Jay Kernis, producer and former Senior Vice President of programming for NPR. “Artists, writers, photographers, filmmakers, and all kinds of performers allowed our microphones into their studios, rehearsal halls and private spaces in order to explore the creative process. It may also surprise listeners to hear how many stories involving the visual arts came to life through the use of sound.”
Robert Malesky, former Voices in the Wind producer and former Weekend Edition Senior Producer, is fully justified in claiming, “Voices in the Wind cast a wide net, going far beyond NPR’s traditional classical music and fine arts programming and stretching the public radio system in new ways. The show captured an important period in America’s creative life, and its preservation is nothing short of essential.”
NPR Historian Julie Rogers recognizes NRPF’s generosity in granting these funds. “Along with NPR’s Research, Archives & Data Strategy team, I am proud that we will now be able to preserve these stellar interviews for future generations. It is rewarding to know that our initial preservation efforts will benefit new audiences to come via a range of digital platforms.”