Celebrating 5 Years of The 78 Project

5 years isn’t such a long time in the nearly 80-year lifespan of our trusty Presto recorder. For us too, September 1st of 2011 seems like it was just yesterday, a brutally hot summer afternoon when we first set up the Presto and our cameras in the Children’s Garden of The Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  We couldn’t possibly have imagined at the time that it would be the first step on a journey that has since taken us across the country and back a few times, and connected The 78 Project to audiences and listeners around the globe. It’s been 5 years of life changing experiences, and we’re grateful for all of it.

Please join us as we spend the next weeks celebrating beautiful performances by some of the amazing artists we’ve been fortunate to work with. And please also stay tuned for some exciting news ahead.

First posted Nov. 8, 2011:
Episode #1 of The 78 Project – Dawn Landes “The Brown Girl”

The 78 Project: Dawn Landes “The Brown Girl”

Under the sweltering late-summer sun, a small crew of filmmakers and audio historians capture Dawn Landes as she sings “The Brown Girl”. Cicadas drone, buses huff to a stop, bees hover lazily, sunflowers loom, and as the acetate spins, a song is carefully carved into its surface.

An age old and brutal choice: to marry for love or money? In the first side of Dawn Landes’ haunting 78, “The Brown Girl,” the noble Thomas chooses a plain brown girl with a dowry over his beautiful but land-less true love Ellender. Story songs like this one – which travelled from Scotland to the Appalachians over three hundred years – were the primetime dramas of the pre-television era. So the verses swiftly build into an epic, bloody tale with a twist. You can stream Side A of Dawn’s acetate here.

Buy the music on iTunes.

Special thanks to The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the farmers of the Children’s Garden who kindly harvested around us.