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Traditonal Arts in Upstate New York project documentary wins regional Emmy

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CANTON — A documentary about Adirondack song collector Marjorie Lansing Porter has won a New England Emmy. Songs to Keep: Treasures of an Adirondack Folk Collector, produced by Mountain Lake PBS as part of a regional project spearheaded by Traditional Arts in Upstate New York took the prize for outstanding documentary. Producer Paul Larson accepted the award in Boston, Mass., last week.

The documentary earned the top commendation at the 37th annual Boston/New England Emmy Awards presentation on June 7. Part of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the regional chapter is “the standard-bearer for excellence, honoring original content created for traditional broadcast/cablecast mediums as well as non-traditional and emerging platforms for broadband and portable delivery,” according to their website.

Marjorie Lansing Porter collected more than 300 songs in the Adirondacks with a SoundScriber recorder in the 1940s and 1950s. That collection has been cared for by SUNY Plattsburgh Feinberg Library’s Special Collections. In 2013, then-TAUNY Program Director Hannah Harvester initiated a collaboration with SUNY Plattsburgh, Adirondack History Center Museum, Mountain Lake PBS, and a group of Adirondack scholars and musicians, to present this largely forgotten regional treasurer to a broader audience. In addition to the documentary, the collaboration produced an album of songs from the collection performed by Adirondack musicians, a song book, a traveling exhibit about Porter’s life, and a concert tour. Funding for the project came from the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and many individual donors.

On hearing the announcement about the Emmy Award, TAUNY Executive Director Jill Breit said, “We were already very proud of the work our partnership did to share the story of a woman who cared deeply about the history of ordinary people in the Adirondacks. It will be a true pleasure to let her descendants know that people outside our region found the story compelling as well.”

TAUNY is a non-profit organization whose work showcases the folk culture and living traditions of the north country. For more information about the Songs to Keep project and other TAUNY programs and activities and to order copies of the CD and songbook, visit TAUNY’s website at www.TAUNY.org.

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