Sidney Robertson Cowell Records Six Italian Folk Songs

Italian-American Mario Olmeda shared his passion for traditional Italian singing with folk music collector Sidney Robertson Cowell on February 13, 1939, in Martinez, California.

Cowell recorded Olmeda's rendition of six Italian folk songs, including "Marinaro (The Sailor)," and "La Capinera (The Blackbird)," a song he had learned, he said, from his father. Cowell also visited Italian-American communities in the nearby towns of Concord, Pittsburg, and Woodside. Her recordings and photographs of Italian Americans living in the San Francisco Bay Area are featured in California Gold: Folk Music from the Thirties, 1938-1940.

Sidney Robertson Cowell (born Sidney William Hawkins in San Francisco, California, United States, 1903; died 1995) was an American ethnographer and the wife of the composer Henry Cowell.

She collected a large volume of American folk songs between 1936 and 1957, particularly for the WPA Northern California Folk Music Project (1938-1940), which she initiated.

She married in 1924, as her first husband, Kenneth Robertson. They later divorced.

In her later life, she lived in Shady, New York, United States.

While living in Shady, she sold her large library of books on Folklore and Folk Music to raise money for folklorist Vance Randolph (q.v.), who needed funds to help him deal with medical problems.