Yesterday we added 3 new projects to "The Man Who Recorded the World: On the Road with Alan Lomax". These include 2,600+ new pages of documenting American spirituality, dance, music, including the blues, gospel, and jazz, and much more! More detail on the projects below:
In 1947 Alan Lomax recorded bluesmen Big Bill Broonzy, Memphis Slim, and Sonny Boy Williamson on a Presto disc recording machine at Decca Studios in New York City after their concert at Town Hall. In candid oral history and song, the three Southern-born artists, who had established their careers in Chicago, explained the origin and nature of the blues. “They began with blues as a record of the problems of love and women in the Delta world,” Lomax wrote. “They explored the cause of this in the stringent poverty of black rural life. They recalled life in the Mississippi work camps, where the penitentiary stood at the end of the road, waiting to receive the rebellious. Finally, they came to the enormities of the lynch system that threatened anyone who defied its rules.”
Alan Lomax recorded Alabama singers Vera Ward Hall and Doc Reed in 1948 in New York City. These oral histories, play songs, blues, spirituals, and stories were used as the basis of The Rainbow Sign (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1959), a study of African-American spirituality. “God gave Noah that rainbow sign…” is a biblical metaphor included in song and literature referencing the promise of better times ahead. It held special meaning for African-Americans involved in the long movement for civil rights in America.
American Patchwork was a major project that provided rich glimpses into post-Bicentennial multicultural America. Beginning in 1978, Alan Lomax and his team shot ethnographic film and video footage in Mississippi, Arizona, Philadelphia, Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. The result was five films aired by the Public Broadcasting Service in 1991: “Land Where the Blues Began,” “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now,” “Cajun Country,” “Appalachian Journey,” and “Dreams and Songs of the Noble Old.”