Who is Harry Smith?

Seattle artist Drew Christie provides a concise introduction. This reminiscence by fellow musicologist John Cohen dates to 1960 or 1961, judging from the prominence of The Twist.

Harry Everett Smith was born in Portland, Oregon on May 29, 1923.

Most famous for his curation of the 1952 Folkways Anthology of American Folk Music, Harry Smith was also a self taught experimental filmmaker. He grew up in Washington State, in Anacortes and Bellingham. His father worked in canneries and his mother taught on the Lummi Reservation.

Harry Smith received the Chairman’s Merit Award at the 1991 Grammy Awards ceremony in recognition of his impact on American culture.  His thank you speech was simple. He said, “I’m glad to say my dreams came true. I saw America changed by music.”

He died later that year, at the Chelsea Hotel, NYC, on November 27, 1991.

Read more about Harry at the  Harry Smith Archives.

Also this Handy Guide.


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