Press Release


Includes an essay on Illinois folk music and performances by the legendary Burl Ives, Li’l Wally, Big Bill Broonzy, and Mahalia Jackson, as well as new recordings from Katherine Davis, The Gordons, and Sons of the Never Wrong, among others.

CHICAGO The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) is pleased to announce the release of the third and final volume of its Folksongs of Illinois CD series. This comprehensive CD series documents — for the first time — the folk, multi-ethnic, and vernacular music traditions of Illinois from 1800 to 1950.

Culled from archives and field recordings in collections around the state, old commercial 78s and LPs, and new studio recordings from contemporary artists, this series reflects the fact that blues, gospel, country, jazz, polka, reels, spirituals, traditional ballads, tamburitza kolos, labor anthems, corridos, and bluegrass have all enjoyed a home in Illinois. Cover art for the series was created by cartoonist, filmmaker, fine artist, and illustrator Heather McAdams.

On this third volume, listeners can hear folksongs interpreted by popular contemporary artists Lee Murdock, Ella Jenkins, Sons of the Never Wrong, Katherine Davis, The Gordons, and Chris Vallillo. In addition, there is a blues classic from Big Bill Broonzy, a labor anthem from Burl Ives, a bluegrass gem by the Bray Brothers, a gospel standard from Mahalia Jackson, and an early polka from Li’l Wally Jagiello. Other artists and songs recall Finnish, Serbian, Bosnian, Czech, and Swiss musical traditions.

As part of this project, a curriculum on Illinois musical heritage will be produced and distributed to Illinois schools and libraries. A public concert celebrating the release of Folksongs of Illinois Volume III is scheduled for early 2008.

For nearly 35 years, the Illinois Humanities Council has supported the exploration of the history and culture of the Prairie State through its grants and direct programming. The Council has produced this CD serieson Illinois’ musical heritage, in particular, becauseit saw a rare opportunity to look at our diverse cultural heritage through the lens of Illinois musicians and songwriters.

The Folksongs of Illinois project is made possible in part by the We the People initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The CDs in the series are being distributed by the University of Illinois Press ( For orders, call 1.800.621.2736 for sales inquires, call 217.244.4703. Folksongs of Illinois, Volume III, ISBN 0-252-03275-6, EAN 9-780252-032752, $12.99.

For more information about the Illinois Humanities Council, please call 312. 422.5580, write, or visit

The Illinois Humanities Council is an educational organization dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Through its programs and grants, the IHC promotes greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. Organized as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1973, the IHC is now a private nonprofit (501 [c] 3) organization that is funded by contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations; by the Illinois General Assembly; and by the NEH.


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