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Staging Tradition : John Lair and Sarah Gertrude Knott - Michael Ann Williams

Staging Tradition

John Lair and Sarah Gertrude Knott

By: Michael Ann Williams

eBook | 18 March 2024

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Based on extensive archival research and oral history, Staging Tradition traces the parallel careers of the creators of the Renfro Valley Barn Dance and the National Folk Festival. Through their devotion to the staging of traditional culture, including folk, country, and bluegrass music, John Lair (1894-1985) and Sarah Gertrude Knott (1895-1984) became two of the mid-twentieth century's most notable producers.

Lair and Knott's discovery of new developments in theater and entertainment during the 1920s led the pair to careers that kept each of them center stage. Inspired by programs such as WLS's Barn Dance and the success of early folk events, Lair promoted Kentucky musicians. Knott staged her own radically inclusive festival, which included Native and African American traditions and continues today as the National Folk Festival. Michael Ann Williams shows how Lair and Knott fed the public's fascination with the "art of the common man" and were in turn buffeted by cultural forces that developed around and beyond them.

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