Elaine Weissman — Folk Alliance Founder

It was a basic idea – create a cooperative organization of people who operated venues where folk music and dance were performed. As Director of the California Traditional Music Society (CTMS), Elaine Weissman saw the need for networking on behalf of her own organization on a daily basis, so Elaine did what Elaine did best – became the catalyst. Along with her husband, Clark, in 1989 she put out a call, over 125 people met in Malibu, CA, and the North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance began.But the Folk Alliance was only one of Elaine’s many hats. As the Director of the
California Traditional Music Society she oversaw a full calendar of concerts,
classes, the Summer Solstice Festival (and training for volunteers and on-site
staff), the Taste of Folk Music festival, and Music in the Schools program.
Elaine was a committed arts advocate in the city and county of Los Angeles,
fighting for recognition for folk music and dance in all sectors of the arts and
at all levels of government.
Elaine was one of the first people to bring traditional Quebecois artists into
America, and worked for many years booking various bands, as well as running her
other projects. Her love of tradition (celebrated in the new scholarship fund
for traditional artists described on page 3) meant that community-based voices
were preserved and celebrated. A major result of her advocacy resulted in the
Folk Arts position of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs
being posted in the CTMS office – an unprecedented vote of support and
recognition of the high quality of work that CTMS as an organization produces.

Elaine was a proud wife, mother, and grandmother. Her partnership with her
husband, Clark, made many things possible, for themselves, their children, their
many friends in the greater folk community across the U.S. and Canada, and
Jewish community of southern California.

Committed, concerned, tireless, energetic, opinionated, inspiring, supportive,
visionary, generous of spirit are just a few words that can be used to describe
Elaine, a woman of many talents and a vast-reaching heart. Our favorite story
was told by her daughter Suzanne in Montréal at the luncheon for the newly
re-named Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards ceremony. She described her
mother going in for her cancer chemotherapy fully loaded down with Irish or Old
Time music, mailing labels, and the CTMS newsletter – and introducing all her
fellow patients to that old folkie tradition – the newsletter mailing party.
Everyone buckled down to slap mailing labels on newsletters – just one more
story in the life of the woman who no one could say “no” to.

[Obituary courtesy of the Folk Alliance].