On October 11, 2011, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings will release the 'Mickey Hart Collection' to preserve and further the Grateful Dead percussionist's endeavor to cross borders and expand musical horizons. Smithsonian Folkways will make many of Mickey Hart's music projects available digitally (stream and download) for the first time while keeping physical versions in print as on-demand CDs.
The Mickey Hart Collection begins with 25 albums drawn from 'The World,' a series Hart curated that incorporated his solo projects, other artists' productions, and re-releases of out-of-print titles. Six of the twenty-five albums form the "Endangered Music Project," a collaboration between Mickey Hart and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, which presents recordings from musical traditions at risk. Both 'The World' and 'The Endangered Music Project' were previously distributed by Rykodisc from 1988 to 2002.
'The Mickey Hart Collection' offers a wide variety of music from virtually every corner of the globe, recorded in a diverse range of locations from the Nubian Desert to the Papua New Guinea rainforest.
"Music is our talking book, our portal to the spirit world. I hope you will enjoy these audio snapshots of my musical journey," Hart says. "It's an honor to have my recordings at Smithsonian Folkways alongside the greatest songcatchers of our time."
"Our new technologies are part of a powerful civilization which is rapidly transforming the world around us. It changes the environment, often in ways that endanger the delicate ecological balance nature has wrought over the millennia. It also brings radical change to cultures. Sometimes that change is empowering. But all too often it endangers precious human ways of life, just as surely as it endangers the environment within which those ways of life flourish. This series is dedicated to the hope that with education, empathy, and assistance, imperiled cultures can survive."
- Mickey Hart and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress
Hart co-produced The Endangered Music Project with Alan Jabbour, former Director of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. Mickey Hart served for twelve years on the American Folklife Center (AFC) Board of Trustees and helped to establish the "Save Our Sounds" project, a collaboration between the AFC and the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.
Hart has also co-written four books documenting his lifelong fascination with the history and mythology of music. These include Drumming at the Edge of Magic, Planet Drum, Spirit into Sound: The Magic of Music and Songcatchers: In Search of the World's Music. He also served on the Smithsonian Folkways advisory board in the late 1980s, where he was instrumental in shaping digitization strategy for the Moses and Frances Asch Folkways Records Collection and served as technical director for The Original Vision, the initial Smithsonian Folkways reissue of Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly recordings. He also digitally remastered the Smithsonian Folkways album Hawaiian Drum Dance Chants and, with Thomas Vennum, Jr., supervised sound duplication for the album Navajo Songs.