Singing the Past to Life

Diane explores history through some of the most beautiful, compelling songs ever created. She focuses on the lives of ordinary people living in extraordinary times. The issues they faced still echo in our lives, their struggles reflected in today's headlines.

Diane shines a light on people who deserve to be better known for their courage, ingenuity, and endurance. Her clear, gorgeous voice captures the mood of each song. She presents drinking tunes, hymns, funny ditties, passionate ballads, lullabyes, spirituals, and everything in between with elegance and honesty.

Diane performs in hand-sewn garments made from original patterns, and her instruments are appropriate to each era. She plays a lap dulcimer, invented in the 1600s in Appalachia; a facsimile of the lute-like 1700s English guitar; and a parlor guitar of the mid-19th and early 20th centuries.

We know a lot about the rich and powerful in the past, but we have much less information about the lives of common folk, who have always been most of the population. Women, especially, left behind few written records. One way to peek into their lives is through folk songs, which deal with an amazing range of topics. The brightest joys and deepest sorrows appear in surprisingly frank language, in songs that span all emotions: lively or serene, rude or contemplative, tender or boastful, mournful or gleeful, despairing or romantic, devout or irreverent.

Listening to songs created by people who lived through momentous events adds a depth of understanding about the way men and women of ordinary means lived, loved, and thought about themselves and their place in the world.

Click on a program title to learn more:

Specific eras:

Songs of the Revolution

A Civil War Sampler

Exploring Women's History Through Folk Songs

A Free Woman: The Amazing Grace of Mum Bet

Factory Maids: The Millworkers of New England

Winning the Vote

Till We Meet Again: Songs of the First World War

Social history:

Top to Toe: The Natural History of Clothing

House of the Rising Sun

No Such Thing as Idle Hands: The History of Women's Work

Feckless Hoydens

Come to the Fair

Music through time:

Surprising But True

The Music of Our Lives

A French Potpourri

Technology and innovation:

Full Steam Ahead!

The Horseless Carriage

For the holidays:

A Victorian Christmas

Diane offers a fascinating program of Christmas music from the Victorian era, when many of today's familiar carols were written or revived. Diane creates a festive mood, clad in the highly decorative clothing of the mid-1800s, the era of Charles Dickens. Her hoop-skirted gown contains more than seven yards of fabric! There are many chances to sing along.

Programs usually last about an hour, but can be expanded or shortened as needed. They can also be adapted to suit various themes. For several years Diane performed at a Yale University seminar, giving an overview of the many types of music heard in the Colonial era. She explored the life of Rev. Adonijah Bidwell for the Bidwell House Museum in the Berkshires, and she presented the history of Old Glory for a Flag Day celebration. She has also visited schools to explain how to write a ballad and to consider life in the 1700s through the five senses.

Fees are flexible, depending on travel and program length.

For more information or to book any of these performances, please contact us. email

"A Diane Taraz concert provides an extraordinary, and revealing, entry into the life of the American past. Don't miss the chance!"

-- John Demos, Professor of History, Yale University (2015)

"Everyone at the Garden Party enjoyed 'Waving the Flag of Freedom.' People were amazed at the knowledge of history you had and shared with us in song and storytelling. Thank you for making this the best Garden Party that the Dover Historical Society has ever had, as expressed by many folks."

-- Janet Comiskey-Giannini, Curator, Dover Historical Society (2014)

"Diane Taraz performed for a group of over 350 at our convention. Every person in the room was riveted! The combination of historical storytelling and song was intriguing and entertaining, and her amazing voice captured our hearts."

-- Jessie Cope, Convention Planner, National Grange (2013)

Diane with English Guitar