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Emmy win gives "Songs to Keep" new life

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A project giving a large piece of the North Country's cultural heritage new life is gaining larger recognition. A TV documentary about Adirondack song collector Marjorie Lansing Porter has won a New England Emmy.

Songs to Keep: Treasures of an Adirondack Folk Collector, was produced by Mountain Lake PBS as part of a regional project spearheaded by TAUNY - Traditional Arts in Upstate New York.

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Reported by

Martha Foley
News and Public Affairs Director

Porter collected more than 300 songs in the Adirondacks with a primitive SoundScriber recorder in the 1940s and 1950s. The collection was archived at SUNY Plattsburgh’s library. For decades, there it sat, until the “Songs to Keep” project.  

Jill Breit is TAUNY Executive Director. She says Porter collected songs from ordinary people, going about their everyday lives, singing while they worked or for recreation.  The documentary tells her story, and the story of the songs’ new life, through a partnership of key organizations in the region, and a group of contemporary Adirondack musicians.

The collaboration started when Lee Knight, a musician from Saranac Lake, approached TAUNY Program Director Hannah Harvester with the idea.

The collaborators include SUNY Plattsburgh, Adirondack History Center Museum, Mountain Lake PBS, and a group of Adirondack scholars and musicians.

In addition to the documentary, they produced an album of songs from the collection performed by Adirondack musicians, a song book, a traveling exhibit about Porter’s life, and a concert tour.

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