Nicholas Spitzer | Filmmakers on Folkstreams

Nicholas Spitzer

Nick Spitzer is a folklorist specializing in American music and cultures of the Gulf South, with a long history of involvement in radio. Host, artistic director, and producer of the award-winning program Folk Masters (now on Smithsonian Folkways CDs), Spitzer is also a contributor of features on American music and culture to NPR's All Things Considered. In 1993, he initiated an annual American Roots 4th of July concert, broadcast live from the National Mall on NPR. Spitzer's radio experience goes back to the 1970s, when he served first as program director of WXPN-FM the college radio station at Penn in Philadelphia, where he majored in anthropology. After graduation, he was afternoon drive host on the popular "underground" rock station WMMR-FM in Philadelphia. Spitzer later worked as a deejay on the legendary progressive country station, KOKE-FM during the early boom days of the Austin music scene. As Louisiana State Folklorist (1978-85), he created films, festivals, exhibits and recordings of regional music, and co-produced a 90-minute Folk Festival USA special on Louisiana music for NPR, helping to bring Cajun music and zydeco to national visibility. His work continued at the Smithsonian Institution, where he curated folk festival programs and directed or served as commentator in films about American music including Great Performances, broadcast on PBS and the Discovery Channel. In 1995 for his work with Creole cultures, he was named as a fellow at the School of American Research in Santa Fe. He has also served on the boards of the American Folklore Society, Fund for Folk Culture, and National Council for the Traditional Arts. Spitzer holds a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Texas, having done his research with African-French Louisiana Creoles and zydeco music. He is currently professor of folklore and cultural conservation at the University of New Orleans