By Kirsten Crocker



Professor David Dunaway and alumna Molly Beer deliver a multi-voiced telling of folk revivalism in the United States in the recently released "Singing Out: An Oral History of America's Folk Music Revivals."

By editing and arranging interview segments and contextualizing them with back-story, Dunaway and Beer depict folk revivalism as it evolved over time and across interpretations. They connect the oral histories to a wider historical inquiry about the importance of protest/political songs of America's folk music revivals.

Dunaway, Department of English Language and Literature, and Beer include folk figures as wide-ranging as Composers' Collective members from the 1930s; union singers like Almanacs, Bess Lomax Hawes and Sis Cunningham; the singing Seeger family; 1960s and 1970s folk-stars Phil Ochs, Mary Travers, Don McLean, Judy Collins, Arlo Guthrie and Holly Near, as well as young folk and folk-inspired performers just beginning their careers.

"Folk music was the music that I grew up with at summer camps and at hootenannies… This book reflects that love for folk music which I have also shared with tens of thousands of listeners on for the last 25 years," said Dunaway, one of the show's producers.

"While writing Pete Seeger's biography <"How Can I Keep from Singing?">, I did 130 interviews now housed in the Library of Congress American Folklife Center under my name. I've gotten so many queries from researchers about these interviews that I decided I had to both deposit them at the Library of Congress and excerpt them in the form of a book talking about what I've learned about politics, the music and the urge to revive the songs and stories of an older time," Dunaway said.

"For three years, I and my former graduate assistant worked together through these interviews to try and find a story of American folk music. The book is from a scholarly press but is aimed for anyone who enjoys American folk music and has enjoyed it in the past," he said.

Beer works as a freelance writer and correspondent for National Geographic Society's Glimpse.org in Morelia, Mexico, where her husband, also a UNM student, is a Fulbright Fellow. Beer graduated from UNM last summer with a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.

Dunaway was recently named the first recipient of the 2010 Stetson Kennedy Vox Populi Voice of the People biennial award, presented for outstanding achievement in collecting and use of oral histories of people and organizations. The award is presented by the Stetson Kennedy Foundation and the Oral History Association.

Carolyn Gonzales contributed to this report.