In October 1998, a college student named Matt Shepard was brutally murdered in Laramie, Wyoming, by two young men. Matt was slight of build, 5'2", and gay. The two men who murdered him pretended to be gay in order to rob him. His killing made headlines around the world and resulted in an outpouring of grief and anger that people channeled into poetry, songs and musical compositions, movies, a charity foundation, a national Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and at least two plays, The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later.
The women of Smith Island are known for creating multilayered cakes for church suppers, fundraisers, and other community events. After gaining attention over the years, in 2006, Smith Island cake was named the official dessert of Maryland.
José Feliciano will remain forever celebrated for his perennial Christmas classic "Feliz Navidad," one of his many hit recordings that have resulted in 45 Gold and Platinum records and eight Grammy awards. His launch to stardom began 50 years ago, with his hit 1968 recording of "Light My Fire," but it was not until his appearance at a baseball game later that fall that he truly became a household name.
As interns in the Making American Music project, we use the inspiration of the museum collections and exhibitions to make music and engage museum visitors in a conversation about the relationship between music and history in the U.S.
Today we're reflecting on the life of singer, songwriter, diva, civil rights activist, and cultural icon Aretha Franklin. Over 100 of Franklin's records, mostly 45s and 33s, are in our collection, together chronicling the vast expanse and depth of her recording career.