Verna Gillis audio recordings

Summary
Collection ID:
CFCH.GILLIS
Creators:
Gillis, Verna
Dates:
Undated, 1968-1979
Languages:
Multiple languages
Recordings in
English
and
Haitian Creole
.
Physical Description:
24 sound tape reels
Tapes VG-0001 - VG-0021 have been digitally transferred at 96kHz/24-bit with the exception of tapes VG-0018 and VG-0019. Tape VG-0018 has been transferred poorly. Tapes VG-0019, VG-0022, VG-0023, VG-0024 require conservation prior to transfer.
Repository:
The Verna Gillis audio recordings consist of 24 open-reel tapes. The field recordings document work done by folklorist Verna Gillis in Haiti, Oklahoma, Philadelphia, and Cuba.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The Verna Gillis audio recordings consist of 24 open-reel tapes. The field recordings document work done by folklorist Verna Gillis in Haiti, Oklahoma, Philadelphia, and Cuba between 1968-1979. Most recordings are of vodou ceremonies recorded in Haiti and church services led by Bishop Audrey F. Bronson. Also notable are performances by Comanche artist Joyce Lee "Doc" Tate Nevaquaya, an American Indian flute player.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The Verna Gillis audio recordings are arranged according to numbers assigned to the open reel tapes by the RRFAC. Where more than one tape from the same day or event exists, those tapes are kept together in the overall arrangement.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Verna Gillis (b. 1942) is a New York-based music producer and holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology. She is known for her successful efforts to bring musicians from various immigrant communities to the forefront of the New York City music scene, helping to usher music from the Carribean, Africa, and Latin America into the mainstream of American life during the 1970s and 80s.
She was an Assistant Professor at Brooklyn College from 1974 to 1980 and at Carnegie Mellon University from 1988 to 1990.
From 1972 to 1979, Gillis recorded traditional music in Afghanistan, Iran, Kashmir, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Peru, Surinam, and Ghana.
In 1979, she opened Soundscape, a non-profit multi-cultural performance space in New York City, on west 52nd Street which she directed for the next five years. A New York Times profile from 1990 described the energy and importance of the performance space at this time: Gillis would book "lectures by the jazz saxophonist Archie Shepp, voodoo ceremonies by the Haitian ensemble Troupe Makandal, art rock by the guitarist Arto Lindsay. David Byrne, Hal Wilner and Bill Laswell of the downtown musical crowd were regular listeners. The two giants of free jazz, Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman, collaborated for the first time ever in Soundscape, playing informally together over a two-week span of 1980." [1]
Gillis had to close Soundscape in 1987 after it went too deeply into debt, but she continued to be a force in the music community of the city. Gillis began a new career managing and producing international musicians including Youssou N'dour from Senegal, Yomo Toro from Puerto Rico, Salif Keita form Mali, and Carlinhos Brown from Brazil.
Gillis produced sixteen albums on Folkways/Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, which include music from the Dominican Republic, Ghana, Haiti, Cuba, the Gambia, and Philadelphia, PA, as well as American Indian music and spoken word.
She was nominated for two GRAMMYs for her work as a producer: in 2000 for the Archie Shepp/Roswell Rudd Quartet Live in New York, and again in 2001 for Roswell Rudd's MALIcool.
[1] http://www.nytimes.com/1990/04/08/magazine/what-really-makes-new-york-work-secret-powers-verna-gillis-muse-melting-pot.html?pagewanted=all

Administration
Processing Information
The tapes in the Verna Gillis audio recordings were processed by Ronnie Simpkins in 2011 as a part of a digitization workflow, with an additional preservation assessment of problematic tapes by Dave Walker in 2016.
Author
Dave Walker and Cecilia Peterson

General
General
Scope and Contents notes for each tape are composed of transcribed notes from the recto and verso of tape boxes. Archivist notes are in brackets.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Access by appointment only. Contact the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at (202) 633-7322 or rinzlerarchives@si.edu for additional information.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright restrictions apply. Contact archives staff for information.
Preferred Citation
Verna Gillis audio recordings, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives, Smithsonian Institution.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Native American flute Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Church music Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sermons Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Vodou -- Haiti -- Rituals. Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bronson, Audrey F. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Guillén, Nicolás , 1902-1989 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Nevaquaya, Doc Tate, 1932-1996 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
600 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, D.C.
rinzlerarchives@si.edu
https://www.folklife.si.edu/archive/