• Folk Music Friday!


    Welcome to the Folk Music Friday Page! On Fridays, we'll explore folk music from a variety of cultures, as well as some videos over folk dances from around the world! 

  • "Lift Every Voice and Sing" is important in Amercian History and is known as the Black National Anthem.

    Written in 1900 by James Weldon Johnson as a poem, his brother John Rosamond Johnson wrote the music later on. "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was originally written to celebrate the late Abraham Lincoln in rememberance of his birthday. 

    James Weldon Johnson was the principal at the all-Black school Santon School in Jacksonville, Florida, where "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was first performed by 500 students at the school. Johnson later expanded the school to be the first African American high school in Florida, providing educational opportunities for African Americans in Florida that did not exist before that.

    While still principal of Stanton School, James Johnson studied law and was the first African American admitted to the Florida Bar (the people that oversee lawyers in Florida) after the Civil War and reconstruction era. 

    In the 1920's, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" became the song of the NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) where James Weldon Johnson served as the executive secretary of the organization until the 1930s.

    The message of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" has lived beyond its time and is still an important part of Black and African American culture today. There have been many versions of the song over the years with various artists performing the song, including Beyonce Knowles. 

    One of the earliest recordings of the song is from 1923, performed by the Manhattan Harmony 4, an all-Black quartet. 

    Click Here to listen to the Manhattan Harmony 4 sing "Lift Every Voice and Sing"


     Additionally, here is Beyonce's interpretation of "Lift Every Voice and Sing".

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  • "Follow the Drinking Gourd" was sung primarily by African American Slaves in the United States that were wanting to escape north to freedom. The Drinking Gourd in the song actually means the star constellation, the Big Dipper, which was use to guide in the night.

    While the lyrics may seem straight forward, the music actually hides secret messages. "When the sun comes back and the first quail calls" means at the start of spring. Escaping in the winter would be too dangerous in the winter, so often, people would try and leave at the start of spring. "The ol' man" that will carry slaves to freedom referred to people like Peg Leg Joe who helped people along the safe paths to freedom. 

    This website has more information on what the secret meanings of the lyrics are.


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  • Happy Friday y'all! 


    This folk music Friday is about one of the most well-known songs of the folk music revival in the United States. 

    This Land is Your Land's original message was as a protest song, written to show the realities of the Great Depression where many people were living in poverty on the streets. The writer of the song, Woody Guthrie, questioned if if this land was made for everyone, why are so many people starving and sick when we should be taking care of each other during difficult times.

    The song has stayed prominent as a folksong and is also commonly sung as a campfire song.

     Here is a recording of Woddy Guthrie singing This Land is Your Land.

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  • Happy Friday friends!

    This week is a song that likely originated in the British Isles, but came over to the United States. It is a song that has many variations and versions, but the fundamentals are the same: it is based around animals, it adds new animals throughout the song, and the cat goes "fiddle-i-fee".


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  • Happy Friday everyone!

    This song is a classic Cowboy folk song. I talk more about it a bit in the video.


    Have a great weekend everyone!


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  • Happy folk music Friday! 


    This song comes from our protest songs in the 1950s and 1960s during the Civil Rights movement. 

    "If You Miss Me from the Back of the Bus" is a protest song that was in favor of desegregation. There were a lot of different lyrics over the years such as 

    "If you miss me at the back of the bus and you can't find me nowhere, come on over to the front of the bus, I'll be sitting up there" references Rosa Parks's decision to sit at the front of a segregated bus. 


    "If you miss me at the Mississipi river and you can't find me nowhere, come on over to the city pool, I'll be swimming over there" is discussing segregation on public places such as the city pool. 


    "If you miss me at the picket line and you can't find me nowhere, come on over to the county jail, I'll be staying over there" talks about how the people in the civil rights movement are dedicated to the cause of equality and are willing to make sacrifices like going to jail for their beliefs. 


    One thing we can all learn from this song is that there are definitely things in our lives that are worth fighting for because even if it may not change things immediately, things can change over time in a good way for other people. 


    Click here to listen to a recording that was taken during the civil rights movement of "If You Miss Me from the Back of the Bus."

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  • Happy Folk Music Friday everyone! 


    Continuing on with Native American music, one of the most recognized instruments from almost every Native American tribe is the use of the flute. 

    How the flutes are made are different from culture to culture. Some of the materials used are wood, bones, bamboo, river cane, and even old gun barrels. 

    Often, the flutes are used as a way to romance someone. Additionally, they are used to convey stories of the past. 


    Here is a video of Mary Youngblood performing an original song on a Plains style flute.

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  • Hello my awesome students,

    With recognizing folk music, it is important to remember the first musics in North America which was created by Native Americans and First Nations populations. 

    First, Native American and First Nations music is extremely diverse and it would be inaccurate to try and group every single tribe into ONE kind of music. Music from the Northeast Indians is very different from the Plains, and even within the larger terms, individual tribes are different in their music traditions. One of the common ties is music is woven into the day to day life and activities of Native Americans.

    For this Folk Music Friday, we'll be covering Dance Songs from the Plains which includes the Blackfoot, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Comanche and Crow tribes. 

    A common activity within the Plains tribe is a powwow. A powwow is a ceremony that usually involves feasting, dancing, and singing. Tribes will intermingle during these ceremonies and are occasionally open to the public now. 

    Some of the music you may hear during a powwow is singing and drumming. The singing usually starts higher and then lower. The drum serves as a heartbeat to the music. 

    This is the Sun Dance Song from the Northern Arapahoe tribe


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  • "We Shall Overcome" was originally a gospel song. During the Civil Rights movement, a musical movement called the Urban Folk Revival was happening. A lot of music from the Urban Folk Revival found its original roots in gospel music, but it took on a new meaning. We Shall Overcome changed over time and became one of the most widely used protest songs during the Urban Folk Revival. Here is a video of Pete Seegar performing We Shall Overcome.



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