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Florida Department of State Announces Release of Drop on Down in Florida: Field Recordings of African American Traditional Music, 1977-1980

Album reissue showcases Florida’s African American musical heritage

Tallahassee, Florida –

The Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources today announced the release of Drop on Down in Florida: Field Recordings of African American Traditional Music, 1977–1980. The book/CD set, distributed by Atlanta-based record label Dust-to-Digital, is an expanded reissue of a double-LP released by the Florida Folklife Program in 1981 titled Drop on Down in Florida: Recent Field Recordings of Afro-American Traditional Music.

"We are very excited to collaborate with Dust-to-Digital to release this important collection of field recordings, essays, and images," said Secretary of State Ken Detzner. "This album reissue provides scholars, music fans, record collectors, and the general public with an exceptional look at our state’s traditional African American musical heritage and history.”

The original Drop on Down in Florida was a two-record LP set based on four years of fieldwork conducted by the Florida Folklife Program on African American traditional music throughout the state. It was intended to highlight different forms of African American musical expression, especially the blues and sacred music traditions, for a statewide public audience. Seeking to expand the reach of these rare recordings, the Florida Folklife Program and Dust-to-Digital, an award-winning record label known for specially packaged releases of American vernacular music, drew upon extensive fieldwork materials now housed in the State Archives of Florida. Together, these organizations have provided the public with a reissue of the 1981 album that includes approximately 80 previously unreleased minutes of music.

The 2012 edition of Drop on Down in Florida is the result of the exciting partnership between the Florida Folklife Program, the State Archives of Florida, and Dust-to-Digital. The reissue consists of 2 CDs featuring all 27 tracks from the original 1981 album, plus additional audio recordings available for the first time. Notable among these new tracks are additional selections and personal narratives from one-string musician Moses Williams, four-shape-note Sacred Harp singing from African American communities in the Florida Panhandle, and recordings from multiple artists in the blues and gospel-blues traditions. The set also includes a 224-page hardbound book that consists of expanded and revised essays and liner notes from the 1981 double-LP; new track notes from respected music scholars David Evans and Doris J. Dyen; reflective essays from past and present folklorists with the Florida Folklife Program, including Peggy A. Bulger, Dwight DeVane, and current State Folklorist Blaine Waide; and an extensive essay on African American one-string instrument traditions by David Evans. In addition, the book features 60 black-and-white photographs from the State Archives of Florida, most of which are being published for the first time. The images present the folk artists and communities that perpetuated the musical traditions documented through Florida Folklife Program fieldwork. This expanded reissue highlights the significance of the previously unreleased material, calls attention to the importance of Florida’s African American traditional music, and once again makes the recordings from the original LP available to the public.

Dust-to-Digital has posted two tracks from the upcoming release at www.dust-digital.com, as well as video footage of Moses Williams constructing a one-string instrument out of a piece of broom wire and a door. The video footage, recorded in Williams’ home during the course of Folklife Program fieldwork, is only available for viewing at Dust-to-Digital’s website. To purchase a copy of Drop on Down in Florida: Field Recordings of African American Traditional Music, 1977 – 1980, visit www.dust-digital.com/florida.

About the Florida Folklife Program

The Florida Folklife Program, a component of the Florida Department of State's Division of Historical Resources, documents and presents Florida’s folklife, folklore and folk arts. The program coordinates a wide range of activities and projects designed to increase the awareness of Floridians and visitors alike about Florida’s traditional culture.  Established in 1979 by the legislature to document and present Florida folklife, this program is one of the oldest state folk arts programs in the nation. For more information about Florida folklife, visit www.flheritage.com/preservation/folklife/.

About Dust-to-Digital

Dust-to-Digital, an Atlanta-based record label founded in 1999 by Lance Ledbetter, is currently operated by Ledbetter and his wife April.  Dust-to-Digital produces high-quality, cultural artifacts, which combine rare, essential sound recordings with historic images and detailed texts that describe the artists and their works.  The label has received numerous awards and accolades, including a Grammy® Award for Best Historical Album for their 2008 release Art of Field Recording, Volume I. For more information about Dust-to-Digital, visit www.dust-digital.com/.

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