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'A Chance to Harmonize' Tells the Story of the U.S. Music Unit

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Sheryl Kaskowitz's new book is "A Chance to Harmonize." (Shira Bezalel)

A generation of American folk singers – including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Woody Guthrie – owe their inspiration to a little-known New Deal project known as the U.S. Music Unit. Over the course of two years, federal workers recorded amateur musicians at government-owned homesteads as a way to “raise morale, build community, and create hope,” according to music scholar Sheryl Kaskowitz. The Music Unit made hundreds of recordings for the Library of Congress before it was shut down on grounds that it was “socialistic.” We talk to Kaskowitz about the people behind the music and hear some songs from archives. Kaskowitz’s new book is  “A Chance to Harmonize.”


Sheryl Kaskowitz, author, "A Chance to Harmonize: How FDR’s Hidden Music Unit Tried to Save America from the Great Depression—One Song at a Time"


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