Dr. Harry Oster’s Folk-Lyric Records

Between 1956 and 1963, Dr. Harry Oster, professor of English at LSU Baton Rouge, roamed the back roads of Louisiana in search of traditional music. A background in literary folklore put him on the trail of French and Anglo ballads, but it did not take long for a much broader field of music and related culture to reveal itself: blues, Cajun dance music, African American old time fiddle tunes, informal jam sessions and religious gatherings, prison work songs and spirituals, children’s songs, street vendor cries, personal histories, and folktales.

In 1970 Folk-Lyric Records was sold to Arhoolie Records which re-issued many of Dr. Oster’s recordings under the Arhoolie brand. Arhoolie used the Folklyric brand (now spelled without the hyphen) for its reissue series, mostly from 78rpm recordings.

Folk-Lyric Catalog
Folk-Lyric front and back double spread.

Statement on the passing of Chris Strachwitz

Arhoolie Records Founder
July 1, 1931 – May 5, 2023

We celebrate the life of our founder, friend, and great record man Chris Strachwitz. He died peacefully at home in Marin County, CA, surrounded in his last days by dear friends and family. Over his 91 years, Chris captured the music that represents the best “down home music” the world has to offer.

He was at the forefront of nearly all the roots revivals over the last 60 years including blues, zydeco, Cajun, Norteño and Tejano music. His drive to document traditional music helped introduce the nation to our diverse musical heritage. He had the foresight to save music that might have otherwise been lost to obscurity and played a role in strengthening cultural traditions through his records, films, and most recently the Arhoolie Foundation. He cared for those around him, fought for royalties and recognition for Arhoolie artists, and provided counsel to countless musicians, writers, film makers, and academics.

Plans for a public celebration of his life will be announced in the coming weeks. Today we’re thinking of all that Chris brought to our lives and the lives of the musicians and fans with whom he shared his passion.