With 2015 drawing to a close, it's a good time to talk about one of our favourite books of the year: Folksongs of Another America: Field Recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937-1946  from the University of Wisconsin Press. A Grammy Award nominee, this title is a treat for the eyes and ears.


America's Upper Midwest is a distinctive region where a staggering array of indigenous, immigrant, and enslaved peoples have collectively maintained, merged, and modified their folk song traditions for more than two centuries.

Since the late 1970s, folklorist Jim Leary has been working as part of a movement bent on bringing this body of extraordinary folk music of the Upper Midwest to the attention of the larger public, and Folksongs of Another America: Field Recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937-1946 is a fulfilment of this project. Combining five CDs, a DVD, and a book, this title focuses on 175 performances by more than 200 singers and musicians. It also includes biographical sketches and photographs of performers, as well as transcriptions, translations, and annotations for songs in all twenty-five original languages.

Recently nominated for a Grammy for Best Album notes (alongside the likes of Lead Belly, Joni Mitchell and Tennessee Ernie Ford), it’s easy to see why Folksongs of Another America has been described as ‘a ground-breaking work, covering musical and cultural ground woefully overlooked by American music scholars.’