I’ve been a singer for almost as long as I’ve been a writer (a long time, trust me). I honed my performance chops learning and performing the great American folk ballads like “Simple Gifts,” “Shenandoah,” and several of the other songs included in Alfred Music Publishing's new solo vocal collection American Folk Songs for Solo Singers. The Alfred collection includes 13 classic folk ballads arranged for piano, but also, significantly, includes an accompaniment CD (with no vocal track), making this collection a great tool for practice and performance.
I’ve always been my own accompanist, whether on guitar, dulcimer or just my own voice a cappella. It’s an undisciplined way of performance, and very suited to folk music—especially if you perform solo. (Perhaps I was tainted by all those elementary school and junior high school music teachers who kept telling us to "mind the meter" while singing free-spirted songs that seemed to urge us otherwise, although I've also always understood the value of piano acccompaniment for choral performance of even folk songs.)
Over the years I've come to understand the enormous value of solo vocalists learning even the simplest American folk songs with "formal" accompaniment. I've also learned how freeing it can be to let someone else "do the driving" while I concentrate solely on the vocal performance: interpreting and getting the most out of both my voice and the song. American Folk Songs for Solo Singers provides singers with the opportunity for both.
Alfred’s music collections had always been well known to me as an integral part of my children's piano lessons—and for the dozens of Broadway “vocal selections” books and sheet music that line my music library shelves. But, I’d never really thought of Alfred as a publisher of folk arrangements, so I was curious about American Folk Songs for Solo Singers and how it would suit vocalists interested in performing folk music.