Last week, I turned a spotlight on the enormity of the Smithsonian Folkways catalog, highlighting the tremendous contributions to the catalog of American folk music which have been made under that label. But, it pretty much goes without saying that Folkways Records would never have happened if not for the obsession and dedication of Moses Asch, the label's founder.
Born in Warsaw, Poland, just after the turn of the 20th Century, Moses Asch was one of the greatest fans of indigenous music to have ever touched the craft. He believed in the integrity of musical expression and that any kind of music which could be made by a living person, deserved to be heard by others. He recorded and cataloged - literally - thousands of pieces of music in his lifetime. Not a musician himself, he did, however, recognize the remarkable gifts of many of the 20th Century's greatest folksingers - Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and countless others. Those artists would have existed without Moe Asch, but his dedication to them certainly helped them reach a much wider audience.
Learn more about Moe Asch with this introductory bio and profile.
image courtesy Smithsonian Folkways