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Published: 2011/07/21

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings to Collect the Work of Mickey Hart

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings will release a 25-album Mickey Hart collection in an attempt to archive the Grateful Dead percussionist’s musical journey. The collection, which will feature previously unreleased material, will be available on the Smithsonian Folkways website on October 11 and will offer digital downloads of Hart’s various musical endeavors. Full-album purchases of Hart’s collection will also include the completed original liner notes in the form of PDF files.

The Mickey Hart Collection will include Hart’s solo work as well as re-releases and ventures with other artists. Six of the 25 albums come from Hart’s work with The Endangered Music Project, an exploration of musical traditions in danger of extinction. Hart, also co-produced the Endangered Music Project with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and served on the board for the AFC for 12 years. The project reflects Hart’s intense interest in the history and mythology of music, subjects that also inspired Hart to co-author four books.

Highlights in the collection include Hart’s 70-minute 1990 album, Music to Be Born By, on which he captured his son Taro’s heartbeat in utero. The album, which is a part of Hart’s “The World” series, was intended to calm Hart and his wife’s nerves in the delivery room with peaceful and trance-like global music. After receiving requests from close friends, Hart decided to produce and package it as an album.

Another highlight includes Dafos, a 1990 album consisting of eight songs performed by Hart, Brazilian jazz drummer, Airto Moreira and Brazilian jazz singer, Flora Purim. The album has a mythical and ancient sound that exemplifies Hart’s attention to world music.

In addition to capturing sounds from around the world, the Mickey Hart Collection_ exhibits music that was recorded all over the world, hailing from locations as remote as the Nubian Desert and the Papua New Guinea rainforest.

Hart’s commitment to maintaining the spirituality that his music envelops is evident by his dedication to world music and his efforts with the AFC. “Music is our talking book, our portal to the spirit world. I hope you will enjoy these audio snapshots of my musical journey,” Hart says. “It’s an honor to have my recordings at Smithsonian Folkways alongside the greatest songcatchers of our time.”

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