Alan Lomax’ Life Work to Be Made Available on the Internet

Lomax’s huge collection of field recordings, photographs, manuscripts and films are being digitized and put on a new site reflecting his dream of creating a Global Jukebox, the vintagevynilnews reports. The collection contains music from throughout the Caribbean.

Alan Lomax was one of the most important people in music during the 20th century. While he wasn’t a recording star, it was the recordings he made in the backwoods of the U.S., Great Britain, the Caribbean and other parts of the world that provides the connections from today’s music to it roots. He was the first to record Woody Guthrie and Muddy Waters and not only studied the music of a vast number of area, but also the language, dance and other arts.
It is expected that, by the end of February, the site will have over 17,000 music tracks available to stream for free, just a small part of the 5,000 hours of sound recordings that he amassed during his many trips. In addition, there is 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 video tapes, 5,000 photographs and many manuscripts that could be part of the archive in the future (numerous films of dance from around the world are expected to be added in about a year).
Tom Piazza, a writer on Lomax, told the New York Times “It would be difficult to overstate the importance of what Alan Lomax did over the course of his extraordinary career. He was an epic figure in and of himself, with a musical appetite that was omnivorous and really awe inspiring, who used the new recording technology to go and document musical expression at its most local and least commercial.”
Much of the music he recorded on the back roads of America and the British Isles are directly linked to the early days of rock and rhythm and blues, including early forms of blues and “hillbilly” music. The availability of these recordings on the internet will be a boon to educators, researchers and fans who are interested in hearing where it all began.

Today would have been Lomax’s 97th birthday and, to celebrate both his birth and the announcement of the new archives, Global Jukebox Records has released The Alan Lomax Collection from the American Folklife Center. The sixteen song collection samples music from the many countries where Lomax did his research that he recorded between 1947 and 1982. It’s a great preview of what will be included in the Global Jukebox project.
The track listing:

  • John Henry – W.D. Stewart (Bama), Benny Will Richardson (22), unidentified prisoners
  • Nottamun Town – Jean Ritchie
  • Eilean Mo Chrìdh (Isle Of My Heart) – John Carlin
  • Mental Pictures (Interview) – Texas Gladden
  • She Moves Through the Fair – Margaret Barry
  • Alborada De Vigo – José Maria Rodriguez
  • La Partenza (The Parting) – Trallaleri of Genoa
  • When The Train Comes Along – Mississippi Fred McDowell, Sidney Carter, Rose Hemphill
  • Trials, Troubles, Tribulations – E.C. Ball, Orna Ball
  • Joe Turner – Ed Young, Hobart Smith
  • The Old Tar River – John Davis and the Georgia Sea Island Singers
  • È-Wè È-Wè-Lo, Ogoun Bayamba – Emmanuel McQueen and chorus
  • Señorita Panchita – Neville Marcano (The Growling Tiger)
  • Jelili (Ielili) – Akbar Jaffarov, Museyib Abbasov
  • Just Because – Doodle Thrower & Golden River Grass
  • Go to Sleepy Little Baby – Bessie Jones

For the original report go to

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