Grammy winner and folklorist Bill Ferris

(February 25, 2019)

William Ferris has put out countless books, films and articles over the past five decades, all of them widely acclaimed. But every item on his resume moved down a notch earlier this month, when he won a Grammy Award.

The honor came for his career-spanning 2018 box set, “Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris,” which won for best historical album. “Voices” also won a second Grammy, for David Evans’ liner notes in the accompanying 120-page hardback book.  “I’ve never done anything that’s touched people in such a broad, expansive way,” Ferris said. “Everyone knows about it and I think I’ve heard from everyone I’ve ever met, a flood of emails and notes and phone calls from people I’ve not heard from since I was a child.”

Born and raised in Mississippi, Ferris began taking pictures and making recordings of vernacular artists at an early age — long before entering academia. Even if he hadn’t become one of the world’s leading folklorists at the University of Mississippi, the National Endowment for the Humanities and — since 2002 — at UNC-Chapel Hill, Ferris would have gone right on documenting the music, art and life around him.



Durham Herald Sun