LEGACY COLLECTION SPANNING MORE THAN 50 YEARS OF AMERICAN FOLK MUSIC HISTORY FINDS HOME IN TULSA, OK, FOR PRESERVATION, RESEARCH AND EXHIBITION
TULSA, OK – June 7, 2022 – The Woody Guthrie Archive® has announced the acquisition of an extensive collection of roughly 500 items once belonging to legendary folk singer-songwriter, producer, author and radio show host Oscar Brand—furthering its status as a preeminent institution for the care, study and presentation of American folk music history.
Often referred to as the “Dean of American Folk Music,” Brand cemented a legacy of expertise and advocacy for the genre over an illustrious career spanning more than 70 years. As a musician, songwriter and producer, Brand created nearly 100 full-length records and wrote songs for musicians such as Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, the Smothers Brothers and more. Adding to the list of songwriting credits, Brand also wrote the music and lyrics for several Broadway and Off-Broadway shows including “How to Steal an Election,” 1968.
As the host of WNYC’s “Folksong Festival,” Brand’s Peabody Award-winning radio show championed folk music and became a platform for fellow musicians such as Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, B.B. King, Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell, Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger and more. The radio show holds the Guinness World Record for the longest-running radio program with the same host.
“Growing up, my father always told marvelous stories of Woody [Guthrie] and their friendship,” said Oscar Brand’s daughter Jeannie Brand Derienzo. “In 2021, I was assigned the task of finding the best place for our father’s extensive collection of historical, unique, folk music archives and memorabilia. As I entered the house, I was overwhelmed with the enormity of the collection. My hand rested on a pile of tapes. The first one clearly marked, ‘Folksong Festival Anniversary Show.’ The first folk icon listed was Woody Guthrie. I took it as a sign…and now our father’s vast collection has found a home with his old friend.”
“When we think of pivotal figures in the folk music revival, one of the first names that always comes to mind is Oscar Brand,” said Kate Blalack, Senior Archivist with the American Song Archives which oversees the Woody Guthrie Archive. “He was committed to increasing the visibility of his peers and perfecting his own multidisciplinary craft in theater, radio and musical performance. With a heart of gold, Brand was always caring for others and was an extremely dedicated father. We think of our collections as a gathering of the folk ‘gurus’ who perfected their craft and gave back to the community. We are most grateful to have this incredible family legacy collection here to inspire future generations.”
Donated by the Oscar Brand Family–Jeannie Brand Derienzo, Eric Brand, Jordan Brand and James Brandon–the collection will be housed among holdings by the American Song Archives, which includes other notable artists such as Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and more. The collection will be open for research by approved applicants and used in future exhibitions.
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About the Woody Guthrie Center®
The Woody Guthrie Center, opened in 2013, is dedicated to spreading Woody Guthrie’s message of diversity, equality and justice to a new generation who can create their own ripples of change. The center honors Guthrie’s life and legacy by educating visitors, teachers, students and scholars about his relevance today and his important role in American history through on-site programming, classroom materials, youth music programs, artist-in-residence programs, school outreach, internships, fellowship opportunities and the Woody Guthrie Archives.
For more information, please visit www.woodyguthriecenter.org.