About the Music

The music presented on Florida Memory Radio was selected from thousands of hours of Florida Folk Festival performances from 1954 to present, Folklife field recordings and WPA recordings from 1935–1940.


The blues has enjoyed a rich and varied tradition in Florida. Folklorists, such as Zora Neale Hurston, Alan Lomax and Stetson Kennedy, documented Florida blues music from the late 1920s through the early 1940s. Blues musicians received widespread attention during the 1960s blues and folk music revival, and in 1978, the North Florida Folklife Project began to document performances.

Bluegrass & Old-Time

Old-time string band and bluegrass music has deep roots in Florida with fiddle players, such as Cush Holston and Richard Seaman. Old-time is based on the centuries-old dance music and songs of people of Anglo-Celtic descent. Bluegrass takes its name from Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, a Kentucky band that combined elements of old-time, big band, blues and other influences to create a new, high energy musical style in the 1940s.


Comprising the largest category of music in the collection, folk is a mixture of traditional and revival folk music. Florida is proud of its folk music heritage, as well as native troubadours like Gamble Rogers, Will McLean, and Frank and Ann Thomas.


Sacred music is performed in a variety of social contexts ranging from informal, unaccompanied singing, spirited church meetings and gospel concerts by professional artists. Like its secular counterparts such as jazz, blues and other popular forms, this music often combines African and European influences to create unique and compelling musical expressions.


Enduring cultural and historical ties connect Florida with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Nearly a quarter of Florida’s residents can trace their roots to either Spain or the Spanish-speaking nations of the Western Hemisphere. The influence of Latin musical styles on the music of Florida and the broader United States is one of the most significant indications of this cultural exchange.


This selection features music reflecting the broad spectrum of cultures from around the globe found throughout Florida. Examples include Caribbean, Latin, Klezmer, Greek, Middle Eastern, Ukrainian, Japanese, and Southeast Asian.