Various American Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster

This project is the first venture of American Roots Publishing — a company founded by a Nashville publicist to promote and preserve American art and culture. While his name may not be that familiar to 20th century music-philes, most people in North America throughout the past century have probably found themselves whistling one of Stephen Foster’s songs at some point in their life. The catchy call and response refrain of "Doo-dah” from "Camptown Races” and the chorus of "Oh! Susanna,” are merely but a pair of the traditional folk songs written by this accomplished songwriter. Foster penned the majority of his songs in the early half of the 19th Century. A true pioneer, most of his songs didn’t become famous until after his death in 1864, in which Foster was only 37 and had just 38 cents in his wallet. The highlights on this inaugural tribute to the great American songwriter include John Prine’s poignant take on "My Old Kentucky Home,” Mavis Staples’ soulful version of "Hard Times Come Again No More” (featuring backing by Steve Fishell, Buddy Miller and Matt Rollings), and the striking combination of Alison Krauss’ sorrowful vocals and the perfect playing of Mark O’Connor, Yo Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer on the lullaby "Slumber My Darling.” The disc ends with a little Canadian content as Torontonian Ron Sexsmith closes this epic tribute with "Comrades Fill No Glass For Me.” (American Roots)