sampler: Michigan pioneer women
Years ago, while living in Michigan, I read an article in a local paper that contained excerpts from women's diaries written during the American Civil War. I went down to my local library to research these diaries and one of them became the basis for the song "Mary Wallace".
Soon after that I was asked to write a song for a friend about her grandmother, who had been a cook in a lumber camp, which resulted in the song "Jenny Justine Jokala."
Later, through sponsorship of the Kalamazoo Historical Society, I received a grand from the Michigan Humanities Council. The project was to write 12 ballads based on diaries, speeches, and stories collected in the oral tradition. The result is a collection of songs that I suppose would have surprised the original writers, but I think would still be recognizable to each of them. Whenever possible I used their exact words, which had the effect of making each ballad very honest. After visiting the collection so many years later, I am amazed at the serendipity that lead me to these particular women, and how the songs almost wrote themselves.
I will always be grateful to my original humanities scholars and friends and family who helped me make "Sampler happen. Their expertise, scholarship, direction and love are far from forgotten by me.
I hope you enjoy this version of these songs, as much as my friends and I have enjoyed recording them.