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  • Transported by Song: An Interview with Kepa Junkera

    Kepa Junkera kicked off the 2016 Folklife Festival evening concert series with a riveting performance alongside the all-women group Sorginak, showcasing his nimble accordion skills and musical genius that earned him a Latin GRAMMY in 2004. The next day, he sat down with us for an interview, and I was amazing by how down-to-earth he was despite his musical success.

    On our walk across the National Mall to the interview site, he stopped to play soccer with a couple of boys who accidentally kicked the ball toward us, mentioning how much he loved the sport. I suggested that he could play with them while we set up the camera, and he happily agreed.

    I enjoyed hearing about Kepa’s musical career journey, why he chose to tour with Sorginak, how he transforms folk music into something more contemporary while still maintaining tradition, and what he thinks about the Folklife Festival focusing on Basque culture. He gave us such great insight to how he has gotten to where he is today and why he wanted to come to the Festival.

    We had to pause for a few minutes partway through to let the Joaldunak procession pass with their large (and very loud) bells. Kepa got up to watch it, marveling at how amazing it was to see traditional Basque culture in Washington, D.C.

    Claudia Romano is a video production intern for the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and a student at Swarthmore College, where she studies anthropology.

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