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Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Kenyan Dhow Builder
Folklife Festival Spotlight: Kenyan Dhow Builder

Meet Ali Abdalla Skanda, who builds traditional wooden sailboats called dhows in Lamu, an island in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Kenya. These days, motorboats outnumber dhows in the Lamu harbor and few craftsmen still build the beautiful but practical boats, but Skanda is determined to carry on his father’s legacy and this element of Swahili culture. Skanda will be a participant in the Kenya program at the 2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, along with his 30-foot boat Lamu .

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Washington Post: ‘Tightening Rules on the Mall Leave Fests in Peril’

Join us! Intern for the Folklife Festival

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival was one of several events mentioned in a recent Washington Post article about proposed regulation changes regarding use of the National Mall. Although the 2015 Festival was long scheduled to be relocated due to site renovation, CFCH staff is working to ensure that the Smithsonian Folklife Festival continues to have a robust presence on the Mall for years to come. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on these regulations, the Festival, and more.

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Flaco & Max: Legends & Legacies Now Available from Smithsonian Folkways

Flaco & Max: Legends & Legacies

Featuring the best of conjunto repertoire, Flaco & Max: Legends & Legacies brings together two GRAMMY-winning virtuosos. For more than 60 years, Flaco has pioneered the three-row button accordion, earning five GRAMMYs along the way. Ever since Max, 28 years his junior, joined Flaco on the bajo sexto guitar, the duo has cultivated a larger-than-life reputation both on and off the stage.

Subscriber Discount: Enter code SFNL0214 at and save 20% on this CD or album download through March 31

Smithsonian Folkways Receives 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award from Folk Alliance International

2014 Lifetime Achievement Award

Smithsonian Folkways received the 2014 Elain Weissman Lifetime Achievement Award along with Folkways recording artists Dock Boggs and Buddy MacMaster, at the 2014 Folk Alliance International conference in Kansas City, Missouri.

Read more about the legacy of Smithsonian Folkways

Celebrate Women’s History Month

Celebrate Women’s History Month

Visit Smithsonian Folkways to listen to the music of women who have challenged discrimination in communities around the world. The article “Women Breaking Musical Barriers” features audio and video of women musicians playing instruments, songs, and styles of music that showcase their courage, talent, and determination.

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Attention Teachers: Smithsonian Folkways Offers World Music Workshop

World Music Workshop

Do you use music to teach about world cultures? Are you looking for new strategies to develop curriculum and performance skills? Please join the Smithsonian Folkways certification workshop in world music pedagogy in Seattle, June 23-27. The program focuses on learning culture through songs, movement, dance, instrumental music, and contextualized cultural components.

Enroll online

Sneak Preview: Long Time…Seldom Scene by The Seldom Scene (out April 22)

Long Time…Seldom Scene

For more than four decades, the profoundly influential bluegrass band The Seldom Scene has shared its undeniable talent, progressive repertoire, and creative spirit in the studio and on the stage. The Seldom Scene’s first-ever release with Smithsonian Folkways, Long Time...Seldom Scene, captures the identity and playfulness that have endeared the group to audiences around the world.

Preview the album online

The Will to Adorn Shares Educational Projects Online

The Will to Adorn

Collaborations continue from the 2013 Festival program The Will to Adorn: African American Diversity, Style, and Identity! Nine Youth Access partners are still researching and documenting in African American communities across the country. Their projects, including after-school art programs, film projects, and other educational innovations, are showcased in an online conference hosted by the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access.

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One World, Many Voices Launches Festival Photo Gallery

Festival Photo Gallery

In celebration of International Mother Language Day on February 21, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage launched a new Festival Photo Gallery showcasing the many cultural experts who shared their language revitalization efforts and cultural traditions as part of the One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage program at the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Visit the photo gallery

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Images (top to bottom): 1) Lamu dhow. Photo by Joshua Cogan. 2) 2010 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Photo by Dane Penland, Smithsonian Institution. 3) Flaco & Max: Legends & Legacies album cover. Photo by Tom Pich, art direction, layout, and design by Steve Cooly. 4) Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo by Kathryn Green. 5) Folkways Years, 1955-1992: Songs of Love and Politics album cover. Photo by Ewan MacColl, design by Carol Hardy. 6) Long Time…Seldom Scene album cover. Photo by Michael Oberman, art design by Jackson Foster. 7) Workshop participants learn Senegalese sabar drumming in June 2013. Photo by Meredith Holmgren. 8) Bowie State University student documents Howard University’s YardFest 2010. Photo by Harold Anderson. 9) Tuvan and Quechua participants at the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Photo by Beatrice Ugolini, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution.

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