You can get a free download of the song, Children, Go Where I Send Thee by clicking HERE!
Elizabeth Mitchell & Friends – Peggy Seeger, Natalie Merchant, Dan Zanes, Aoife O’Donovan & more – explore the Ruth Crawford Seeger Christmas songbook on ‘The Sounding Joy’ from Smithsonian Folkways
GRAMMY-nominated recording artist Elizabeth Mitchell releases The Sounding Joy, an exploration of Christmas and solstice songs from the American folk tradition. Drawn almost exclusively from the often overlooked but deeply influential songbook of revered composer and anthologist Ruth Crawford Seeger, these songs evoke an era before mass media and the commercialization of Christmas, when sacred song, dance, contemplation, and gathering were prized above all else during the holiday season. Mitchell’s fifth album for Smithsonian Folkways, The Sounding Joy features husband Daniel Littleton, daughter Storey, and special guests Peggy Seeger, Natalie Merchant, Amy Helm, Aoife O’Donovan, Gail Ann Dorsey, Larry Campbell, Dan Zanes, and John Sebastian, among many other family, friends, and neighbors. This gorgeously reverent 24-song collection attempts to save these traditional American holiday songs from an “unmarked grave,” as Merchant puts it in her essay included in the liner notes. The Sounding Joy is truly for listeners of all ages and is Smithsonian Folkways’ first holiday album in more than a decade.
Sneak Peek at The Sounding Joy: Listen to “Children, Go Where I Send Thee (Little Bitty Baby: A Cumulative Song)” and
While recovering from surgery four years ago, Mitchell spent a Thanksgiving weekend thinking about the project that would eventually become The Sounding Joy. A longtime fan and champion of Ruth Crawford Seeger’s work, Mitchell soon found herself thoroughly immersed in Seeger’s third and final songbook, American Folk Songs for Christmas. Seeger, mother of musicians Mike and Peggy Seeger and stepmother of Pete Seeger, died from cancer at age 52 in 1953, the very same year American Folk Songs for Christmas was published.
The guest artists on The Sounding Joy are impressive. Amy Helm leads a rousing version of “Last Month of the Year” through a groove and vocal quartet style that invokes the early Staple Singers with guitar figures reminiscent of Malian desert blues. Natalie Merchant lends her vocals on the haunting “Joseph and Mary (The Cherry Tree Carol),” and also contributes an essay to the liner notes, while writer/artist Brian Selznick (author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret) provided illustrations for the album package.
Although the songs presented are specific to the Christian tradition, Mitchell’s husband Daniel Littleton cites the inclusive nature of the project, describing the assembly of musicians as an “ecumenical summit” of sorts, with participants of many religious and non-religious backgrounds coming together happily to bring the songs to life. Mitchell sums up the spirit of the album best in her notes: “However you and your loved ones celebrate the last month of the year, I hope it is filled with the sounds of joy.”
Smithsonian Folkways is sponsoring a giveaway on Mommy Ramblings! Two lucky blog readers will win their own Sounding Joy CD! Thank you to Smithsonian Folkways for the review CD and for sponsoring this joyous giveaway on Mommy Ramblings!!! Open to US residents.
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