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The Daily Tar Heel

Southern Folklife Collection celebrates anniversary

The doll is a part of the extensive Southern Folklife Collection (SFC) that is now celebrating its 25th anniversary with a three-day festival, which begins with a benefit dinner Thursday.

The celebration will include performances by Country Music Hall of Fame members Merle Haggard and Tift Merritt , a UNC alumna from the class of 2000.

Other items from the collection, which highlights aspects of the artistic South, include photographs, poems and concert posters. These items are on display in the library’s Melba Remig Saltarelli Exhibit Room.

Matthew Turi, manuscripts research and instruction librarian, said the library’s staff has chosen a wide variety of items from the collection to display especially for the anniversary.

“There are hundreds of thousands of materials,” Turi said as he walked between huge shelves of artifacts in the back room.

“It’s kind of an intellectual mess.”

The SFC made its way to Chapel Hill after the University of California, Los Angeles could not afford its upkeep, said Steven Weiss, curator for the collection. It opened for research in Wilson Library in 1989.

Matt Sakakeeny, assistant professor of music at Tulane University, will give a lecture on the New Orleans Brass Band Symposium on Friday night, the second day of the celebration.

While brass bands don’t usually fit into the traditional genre of folk music, the celebration aims to expand the meaning of the term “folk,” Sakakeeny said in an email.

During the course of the weekend, performers such as Dumpstaphunk, Big Star, Sierra Hull, Dex Romweber Duo and Flaco Jimenez with Los Texmaniacs will perform at Wilson Library, Memorial Hall and Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro.

Sakakeeny said he first thought he would be a misplaced speaker at a folk event, but he soon changed his mind.

“When I saw the whole program — with country star Merle Haggard and rock band Big Star — I realized that they’re really casting their net wide as far as what ‘folk’ is,” he said.

Weiss said the collection attracts interest from a variety students, faculty and staff.

“We’re dealing with music, art and culture of the American South or relating to the American South,” he said.  “It relates to musical traditions, oral traditions, religious beliefs.”

Turi echoed Weiss’ sentiment.

“It’s really anything people did in the South to express themselves artistically,” he said.

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