Maryland Folklife

Maryland Traditions Folklife Area & Stage

Dr. Joan Gaither – story quilts (photo courtesy of artist)

Some people view Folklife as an academic pursuit or a strictly artistic endeavor; but if you’ve ever passed along a family recipe or told a story rooted in your cultural heritage, you have participated in Folklife. Within its most basic of definitions, Folklife is the sharing of living traditions, and is commonly associated with practices such as dance, song, and art. But when you consider traditions that have sustained and evolved within generations and communities as our state has grown, you begin to recognize that Folklife itself is what binds us all.

Given our geography, many of Maryland’s traditions are born from the waters that flow throughout our landscape. Communities have been built around crabbing, boat building, and ports of call. It’s also these waters that connect us, in a broader way, to each other. From mountain lakes to the Chesapeake Bay, and down to the Ocean, hon, it’s the shared experience of where we come from and where we’re going that define us. Foodways, storytelling, and the arts are a means by which we identify who we are, and when we pass on these traditions to others, it becomes a part of their story, too. Within Maryland, the sharing of cultural heritage has created a diverse and vibrant population, rich in customs old and new. The Folklife Area celebrates both the traditions that originated in Maryland as well as those which became a part of our fabric by other cultures and communities who now call the Old Line State home.

In Collaboration With

Maryland Traditions Folklife Area Demonstrators

Dr. Joan M.E. Gaither

story quilts Severn, Maryland

From emancipation in Maryland, to life as a young woman in the 1960s, to Black watermen of the Chesapeake—the story quilts of Dr. Joan Gaither tell powerful biographical stories of her life, the lives of those around her, and the lives of those who came before her. Continue reading

Beach to Bay Heritage Area

historical & nature preservation Berlin, Maryland

The Beach to Bay Heritage Area is committed to promoting, preserving and protecting the cultural heritage, historical linkages and natural assets of Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore by telling the story of “our ways” whether it be art ways, bikeways, byways, flyways, folkways, food ways, or waterways. Continue reading

Alla and Milana Borovskaia

Russian wool felting Olney, Maryland

Alla and Milana, an interdisciplinary visual artist duo based in Maryland, are celebrated for their beautiful large-scale wall sculptural compositions created using thousands of ultrathin shapeless strands of natural wool fibers, freestanding sculptures, and mixed media works that incorporate natural flowers and plants. Continue reading

Trisha Gupta

Rajasthani woodblock design and fabric printing Burtonsville, Maryland

Trisha Gupta is a contemporary artist, community activist, and educator; committed to preserving traditional folk art and fine Indian printmaking. She specializes in using natural pigments derived from traditional Indian plant sources to create colors that are used in her prints, paints, and dyes. Continue reading

Maryland Traditions Archives

culture and heritage preservation Baltimore, Maryland

Housed at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County since 2014, the Maryland Traditions Archives (MTA) contain institutional records from the Maryland Folklife Program (1976-2000) and Maryland Traditions (2000-present), folklorist papers, and materials documenting and/or donated by practitioners of living cultural traditions. Continue reading

Pocomoke Indian Nation

flint knapping (shaping) Delmarva Peninsula

Composed of descendants of one of the Indigenous populations of the Delmarva Peninsula, the Pocomoke Indian Nation pass on the heritage and lifeways of Delmarva’s Indigenous peoples offering oral presentations and demonstrations on Indigenous skills, arts, and customs, including flint knapping (shaping) and artifact displays. Continue reading

Pocomoke River Canoe Co.

river sports Snow Hill, Maryland

For over 40 years they have helped visitors experience the beauty of the Pocomoke River and historic Snow Hill, MD with guided tours and canoe and kayak rentals. Continue reading

Skipjack Heritage Museum

skipjack heritage Chance, Maryland

Formed in 2007 as a non-profit organization with a goal of preserving the maritime history and the cultural heritage of America’s oldest working sailing vessel, the Skipjack. The heritage includes the people who built, owned, captained or worked on those majestic vessels and all the other work boats built and used by the watermen. Continue reading

Maryland Traditions Folklife Stage Performers

Lydia and Emily Martin

old time and Irish traditional music Boyds, Maryland

The Martin sisters of Boyds, Maryland – Lydia and Emily – present traditional Irish and old-time repertoire and have performed on both sides of the Atlantic. Emily’s daughter, Elora Paul-Martin, is a third-generation member of the Martin Family Band. Continue reading

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Hurlock Community Mass Choir/Water’s Edge

gospel Hurlock and Oxford, Maryland

The Hurlock Community Mass Choir is directed by Minister Rayshawn Rich-Vines and includes members from across the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware. This passionate ensemble delivers celestial melodies that uplift spirits and ignite faith. Continue reading


World Music/Ukrainian Traditional Silver Spring, Maryland & Fairfax, Virginia

Founded by Ukrainian professional duo Solomia Gorokhivska and Andrei Pidkivka, Gerdan ensemble brings the fire and the edge of melodic ideas and rhythms that capture the listener. Musicians of Gerdan reveal their passion for traditional Ukrainian music in their artistic expression to build cultural bridges in time and distance. Continue reading

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Stoop Stories

storytelling Baltimore, Maryland

“The Stoop” is a Baltimore-based live show and podcast that features everyday people sharing the extraordinary true tales of their lives. The mission of “The Stoop” is to empower individuals and build community through the sharing of personal stories. Since its founding in 2006, “The Stoop” has featured the tales of more than 4,000 people onstage. The podcast is featured on WYPR 88.1 FM. Continue reading

Noah Mitchel

Yiddish folk music Baltimore, Maryland

Noah Mitchel is a vocalist, theater performer, Yiddish folk music performer, and culture worker living in Baltimore. He also leads communal song workshops, gives one-on-one coaching to singers, and hosts open mics, cabarets and programs. He currently works at the Jewish Museum of Maryland and does various arts and culture activities at Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebl. Continue reading

Folk ‘Em All

bluegrass / American roots Frostburg, Maryland

Folk ‘Em All Trio is a fun, exciting and energetic string trio that covers a vast array of classic American roots music, from bluegrass to western swing, Jimmy Cliff to BB King and original tunes. The group occasionally doubles as longtime Jerry Garcia/David Grisman collaborator Joe Craven’s back-up band, performing together as Joe Craven and the Y’allterations. Continue reading

DewMore Baltimore, Sista Big and Amber Green

spoken word Baltimore, Pocomoke City and Salisbury, Maryland

Poets Sista Big, Amber Green, and members of the DewMore Baltimore Youth Poetry Team use poetry as a platform for civic engagement and as a tool to build strong young people who become leaders in their community. Continue reading

UMES Fraternities & Sororities

step dance / university Greek life Princess Anne, Maryland

Black fraternities and sororities predominantly recruit Black college students and provide a network that includes both undergraduate and alumni members. These organizations were typically founded by Black undergraduate students, faculty, leaders and institutions. Continue reading

Somapa Thai Dance Company

Traditional Thai music and dance Takoma Park, Maryland

Somapa Thai Dance Company, a premier Thai dance and music company based in the Washington, D.C. area, presents traditional Thai music and dances from Thailand. The group has a mission to introduce Thai arts and culture to the public, promote diversity, and encourage understanding and appreciation of the arts. Continue reading

Pablo Regis

Brazilian samba and choro College Park, Maryland

Pablo Regis is a charismatic Brazilian singer and cavaco (Brazilian uke) player based in the College Park area of Maryland. Continue reading

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