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Leary earns Grammy nomination

December 18, 2015
James P. Leary
James P. Leary

When is a book not a book? When it’s considered liner notes, apparently, as is the case with Jim Leary’s 430-page hardcover book at the core of his omnibus Folksongs of Another America: Field Recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937–1946, a multimedia set containing 5 music CDs and 1 documentary DVD tucked inside the front and back cover. Leary has earned a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Album Notes by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, pitting him against Joni Mitchell among others:

  • Folksongs Of Another America: Field Recordings From The Upper Midwest, 1937-1946
    James P. Leary, album notes writer (Various Artists)
    Label: Dust-To-Digital/University of Wisconsin Press
  • Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection
    Jeff Place, album notes writer (Lead Belly)
    Label: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
  • Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting To Be Danced
    Joni Mitchell, album notes writer (Joni Mitchell)
    Label: Rhino
  • Portrait Of An American Singer
    Ted Olson, album notes writer (Tennessee Ernie Ford)
    Label: Bear Family Productions
  • Songs Of The Night: Dance Recordings, 1916-1925
    Ryan Barna, album notes writer (Joseph C. Smith’s Orchestra)
    Label: Archeophone Records

Leary conceded his book “is sort of a giant set of liner notes–the world’s largest,” in a recent Wisconsin State Journal article. The nomination is a nice acknowledgment of the quality work Leary did in researching the people who made the music and telling as much of their respective stories as he could.

The Grammy nomination comes just as Leary is retiring from UW-Madison, after 31 years of teaching. He recently spoke about his time at the institution, and shared some thoughts about the field of folklore with Inside UW. We at Mills Music Library know he will continue to darken our doorway, as he has several projects in the works. We look forward to reading, and hearing, what he does next!