Major Performers Who Emerged From The 1940s To The Early 1960s
Some major folk music performers who emerged during 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s were:
- Woody Guthrie (1912 –1967) is best known as an American singer-songwriter and folk musician, whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children's songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his guitar. His best-known song is "This Land Is Your Land". Many of his recorded songs are archived in the Library of Congress. In the 1930s Guthrie traveled with migrant workers from Oklahoma to California while learning, rewriting, and performing traditional folk and blues songs along the way. Many the songs he composed were about his experiences in the Dust Bowl era during the Great Depression, earning him the nickname the "Dust Bowl Balladeer". Throughout his life, Guthrie was associated with United States communist groups, though he was never formally joined the Party. Guthrie fathered American folk musician Arlo Guthrie. During his later years Guthrie served as a figurehead in the folk movement, providing inspiration to a generation of new folk musicians, including mentor relationships with Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Bob Dylan. Such songwriters as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, Joe Strummer and Tom Paxton have acknowledged their debt to Guthrie as an influence.
- The Almanac Singers Almanac members Millard Lampell, Lee Hays, Pete Seeger, and Woody Guthrie began playing together informally in 1940; the Almanac Singers were formed in December 1940. They invented a driving, energetic performing style, based on what they felt was the best of American country string band music, black and white. They evolved towards controversial topical music. Two of the regular members of the group, Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, later became founding members of The Weavers.
- Burl Ives - as a youth, Ives dropped out of college to travel around as an itinerant singer during the early 1930s, earning his way by doing odd jobs and playing his banjo and guitar. In 1930, he had a brief, local radio career on WBOW radio in Terre Haute, Indiana, and in the 1940s he had his own radio show, titled The Wayfaring Stranger, titled after one of the popular ballads he sang. The show was very popular, and in 1946 Ives was cast as a singing cowboy in the film Smoky. Ives went on to play parts in other popular film as well. His first book, The Wayfaring Stranger, was published in 1948.
- Pete Seeger had met and been influenced by many important folk musicians (and singer-songwriters with folk roots), especially Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly. Seeger had labor movement involvements, and he met Guthrie at a "Grapes of Wrath" migrant workers’ concert on March 3, 1940, and the two thereafter began a musical collaboration (which included the Almanac Singers) and then formed The Weavers. As a songwriter, Seeger authored or co-authored "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?", "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)", (composed with Lee Hays of The Weavers), and "Turn, Turn, Turn!", all three of which have been recorded by many artists both in and outside the folk revival movement and are still sung throughout the world. In 1948, Seeger wrote the first version of his now-classic How to Play the Five-String Banjo, an instructional book that many banjo players credit with starting them off on the instrument. He has recorded, sung, and performed for more than seventy years and has become the most powerful force in the American folk revival after Guthrie.
- The Weavers were formed in 1947 by Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, and Fred Hellerman. After they debuted at the Village Vanguard in New York in 1948, they were then discovered by arranger Gordon Jenkins and signed with Decca Records, releasing a series of successful but heavily-orchestrated single songs. The group's political associations in the era of the Red Scare forced them to break up in 1952; they re-formed in 1955 with a series of successful concerts and album recordings on Vanguard Records. A fifth member, Erik Darling, sometimes sat in with the group when Seeger was unavailable and ultimately replaced Seeger in The Weavers when the latter resigned from the quartet in a dispute about its commercialism in general and its specific agreement to record a cigarette commercial.
- Harry Belafonte, another influential performer, started his career as a club singer in New York to pay for his acting classes. In 1952, he signed a contract with RCA Victor and released his first record album, Mark Twain and Other Folk Favorites. His breakthrough album Calypso (1956) was the first LP to sell over a million copies. The album spent 31 weeks at number one, 58 weeks in the top ten, and 99 weeks on the US charts. It introduced American audiences to Calypso music and Belafonte was dubbed the "King of Calypso." Belafonte went on to record in many genres, including blues, American folk, gospel, and more. In 1959, he starred in Tonight With Belafonte a nationally televised special that introduced Odetta in her debut to a prime time audience. She sang Water Boy and performed a duet with Belafonte of There's a Hole in My Bucket that hit the national charts in 1961.
- Odetta - In 1953 singers Odetta and Larry Mohr recorded an LP that was released in 1954 as Odetta and Larry, an album that was partially recorded live at San Francisco's Tin Angel bar. Odetta enjoyed a long and respected career with a repertoire of traditional songs and blues until her death in 2009.
- The Kingston Trio was formed in 1957 in the Palo Alto, California area by Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds, and Dave Guard, who were just out of college. They were greatly influenced by the Weavers, the calypso sounds of Belafonte, and other semi-pop folk artists such as the Gateway Singers and The Tarriers. The unprecedented popularity and album sales of this group from 1957 to 1963 (including fourteen top ten and five number one LPs on the Billboard charts) was a significant factor in creating a commercial and mainstream audience for folk-styled music where little had existed prior to their emergence. The Kingston Trio's success was followed by other highly successful pop-folk acts, such as The Limeliters.
- The Limeliters are an American folk music group, formed in July 1959 by Lou Gottlieb (bass), Alex Hassilev (baritone), and Glenn Yarbrough (tenor). The group was active from 1959 until 1965, when they disbanded. After a hiatus of sixteen years Yarbrough, Hassilev, and Gottlieb reunited and began performing as The Limeliters again.
- Joan Baez’s career began in 1958 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where at 17 she gave her first coffee-house concert. She was invited to perform at the premiere Newport Folk Festival in 1959 by pop folk star Bob Gibson, after which Baez was sometimes called "the barefoot Madonna," gaining renown for her clear voice and three-octave range. She recorded her first album for a Vanguard Records the following year – a collection of laments and traditional folk ballads from the British Isles, accompanying the songs with guitar. Her second LP release went gold, as did her next (live) albums. One record featured her rendition of a song by the then-unknown Bob Dylan. In the early 1960s, Baez moved into the forefront of the American folk-music revival. Increasingly, her personal convictions – peace, social justice, anti-poverty – were reflected in the topical songs that made up a growing portion of her repertoire, to the point that Baez became a symbol for these particular concerns.
- The Chad Mitchell Trio began in 1959 and emerged in the early 1960s. The group performed a mix of creatively-arranged traditional songs and contemporary numbers that frequently included satiric and political overtones.
- The Highwaymen were an early 1960s "collegiate folk" group that originated at Wesleyan University and had a Billboard number-one hit in 1961 with "Michael", a version of the African-American spiritual Michael, Row the Boat Ashore, and another Top 20 hit in 1962 with "Cottonfields". "Michael" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold record.
- The New Christy Minstrels are an American folk music group founded by Randy Sparks in 1961. They recorded over 20 albums and had several hits, including "Green, Green", "Saturday Night", "Today", "Denver", and "This Land is Your Land". Their 1962 debut album, Presenting The New Christy Minstrels won a Grammy Award and sat in the Billboard charts for two years.
- The Rooftop Singers were an American progressive folk singing trio in the early 1960s, best known for the hit record "Walk Right In".
- The Serendipity Singers, was a nine-member group that started at the University of Colorado and became known nationally in 1964 for a heavily pop-inflected approach to folk music.
- Bob Dylan often performed and sometimes toured with Joan Baez, starting when she was a singer of mostly traditional songs. As Baez adopted some of Dylan's songs into her repertoire and even introduced Dylan to her avid audiences, a large following on the folk circuit, it helped the young songwriter to gain initial recognition. By the time Dylan recorded his first LP (1962) he had developed a style reminiscent of Woody Guthrie. He began to write songs that captured the "progressive" mood on the college campuses and in the coffee houses. Though by 1964 there were many new guitar-playing singer/songwriters, it is arguable that Dylan eventually became the most popular of these younger folk-music-revival performers.
- Peter, Paul and Mary debuted in the early 1960s and were an American trio who ultimately became one of the biggest musical acts of the 1960s. The trio was composed of Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers. They were one of the main folk music torchbearers of social commentary music in the 1960s. As the decade passed, their music incorporated more elements of pop and rock.
- Judy Collins debuted in the early 1960s. At first, she sang traditional folk songs or songs written by others – in particular the protest poets of the time, such as Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, and Bob Dylan. She also recorded her own versions of important songs from the period, such as Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" and Pete Seeger's "Turn, Turn, Turn."
- The Seekers, an Australian folk and pop music group, were formed in 1962. They moved to the UK in 1963 and blended traditional music, contemporary folk music and pop, an illustration of the rapid evolution and diversification of the genre. The Seekers enjoyed great popularity in the English-speaking world with hit songs like "I Know I'll Never Find Another You", "A World Of Our Own," and "Georgy Girl".
- Canada's duo of Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker, performing as Ian & Sylvia, released their first album in 1963. The duo featured a creative mix of traditional American and Canadian folk songs in both English and French as well as contemporary singer-songwriter compositions by Dylan and Paxton, and numbers that they themselves composed like "Four Strong Winds" and "Someday Soon" by Tyson and "You Were On My Mind" by Fricker.
Famous quotes containing the words major, performers, emerged and/or early:
“Give me the keys. I feel for the common chord again,
Sliding by semi-tones till I sink to a minor,yes,
And I blunt it into a ninth, and I stand on alien ground,
Surveying a while the heights I rolled from into the deep;
Which, hark, I have dared and done, for my resting-place is found,
The C Major of this life: so, now I will try to sleep.”
—Robert Browning (18121889)
“... we performers are monsters. We are a totally different, far-out race of people. I totally and completely admit, with no qualms at all, my egomania, my selfishness, coupled with a really magnificent voice.”
—Leontyne Price (b. 1927)
“According to U.S. strategy, if you never see the other, his destruction will be more acceptable ... so that when Iraqi soldiers surrendered, sooner than expected, it was as if they emerged from a dream, a flash-back, a lost epochan epoch when the enemy still had a body and was still like us.”
—Serge Daney (19441992)
“There is a relationship between cartooning and people like Miró and Picasso which may not be understood by the cartoonist, but it definitely is related even in the early Disney.”
—Roy Lichtenstein (b. 1923)