Clark “Bucky” Halker is a founder and the current Director of Company of Folk, as well as well-known scholar and musician. Halker, a Ph.D. in U.S. History, serves as producer-scholar for the Folksongs of Illinois CD series, a Company of Folk project to document the rich and diverse folk and ethnic music in the state. He also writes and lectures extensively on music and labor history and is also the author of For Democracy, Workers, and God: Labor Song-Poems and Labor Protest, 1865-1895.
As an Archie Green Fellow with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in 2011-2012, he has been collecting oral histories and documenting the work of Chicago Iron Workers in building the city. With Lisa Rathje, he has also been conducting fieldwork on folk and ethnic arts in Illinois. Halker serves on the board of directors for the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives and is a fifteen-year veteran of the Illinois Humanities Council Road Scholars speaker’s bureau.
In addition to his work with Company of Folk, Bucky Halker has a dozen recordings to his credit, including Welcome to Labor Land (2002), a recording of Illinois labor songs from the past, and the all-originals Wisconsin 2-13-63, vols. 1 & 2 (2007 & 2009). His new double-CD release, The Ghost of Woody Guthrie (2012), offers an original music tribute to legendary songwriter Woody Guthrie. Halker also serves on the Chicago Chapter Historical Committee for the Grammy Awards.
From 1996 to 2007, he served as the Senior Program Officer for the Illinois Humanities Council where he worked with grant applicants, conducted workshops, established its speakers’ bureau and teacher seminars, and assisted in its public programming in the state.
Lisa Rathje is Director of Folklife Programs and also consults nationally specializing in ethnographic research and folklife program development. Her areas of interest include the intersection of arts, tradition, and community; with research specializations in Afro-Cuban arts, folklife and education, ethnographic research methodologies, and applying cultural knowledge in social justice efforts. At Goucher College Rathje teaches in the Masters in Cultural Sustainability program with graduate seminars in Cultural Partnerships and the Cultural Documentation Field Lab.
Working as a folklorist with the Institute for Cultural Partnerships 2006-2010 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, she administered the Fellowships and Apprenticeships in Folk and Traditional Arts Program for Pennsylvania; including technical assistance, program management, site visits, and documentation. She conceptualized and served as project director 2006-2010 for the successful education program The Art of Many Voices, serving urban youth in Harrisburg’s alternative high school. Also, Making It Better: Folk Arts in Pennsylvania Today, an exhibition featuring over 40 objects that exemplify how traditional art forms serve as catalyst in contemporary communities, was co-curated by Rathje and finished a successful two year tour in 2012. Since 2006, Rathje has served as oral history advisor and videographer for an on-going research project on Afro-Cuban artist Nancy Morejón and others of her generation. Rathje received her Ph.D. in English with a concentration in Folklore from the University of Missouri.