Children’s Folk Life

Beginning in the Bicentennial summer of 1976, I made a series of primitive and amazing videos about children's folk life for Kate and Ralph Rinzler, and the Smithsonian’s Department of American Folk Life – there was a 12-week folk festival on the Mall in Washington,D.C., – and continued that work with the shorter festivals of 1977 and 1978.

Here are video glimpses of two brilliant and dedicated folk musicians, Bessie Jones and Alison McMorland, demonstrating games easily taught to young children.

All Things Shall Be Remembered: Plays and Reflections from an Afro-American Childhood features Bessie Jones who was a powerful musician, performer, and educator from Sea Island, Georgia. She didn't enjoy being interviewed that much but she was transformed when she lifted her tambourine to begin a shout or ring game.



Alison McMorland: Children's Games from Tradition in the British Isles features one of the principal modern interpreters of the Scottish ballad singing tradition who participated in the Folk Life Festival over several seasons. Ms. McMorland is a collector, singer, and author whose videotaped interviews are almost as much fun as the ring games she teaches.

Thanks to Jeff Place and the Rinzler Archive at the Smithsonian Institution for making the tapes available. More clips will be posted in the near future.



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