We are proud to present (at the very real risk that once you click on the link, we won’t see you on OUR website for days, maybe months!) a link to one of the Internet’s finest websites: the site of the Association for Cultural Equity, the organization founded by the great ethnologist and renowned musicologist Alan Lomax. This collection includes over 17 THOUSAND digital audio files, collected between 1946 and the 1990s!
This man is almost single-handedly responsible for collecting and preserving one-of-a-kind field recordings of the absolutely unique and wonderful variety music that existed in the United States before the advent of mass marketing, television and the resulting homogenization of American culture. To listen to his recordings of the great, unknown, hugely talented folk, blues, gospel performers that once populated the rural areas of the United States is to go back in time to experience the very earliest roots of virtually all of popular music that exists in the “western” world today. From field hollers to prison work songs; from homespun rural gospel choirs to amazing solo vocalists; bluegrass pioneers and even musicians from far outside Lomax’ native United States, these recordings represent a precious and invaluable repository of raw, unedited performances of the folk musics of the western hemisphere and beyond. That one man was able to do so much is a tribute to Alan Lomax’ obsession with capturing obscure, naive performances wherever he found them. And he was always ready to record someone, having a portable field recording unit in his car at a time when such a thing was unheard of. He also was able to record men and women who were already, or who were to become among the most beloved performers of – especially – American folk music. The collection of interviews with people from all over the world reveal the often grueling conditions of life in the middle of the 20th century, especially for black workers in the rural United States.
Words literally fail to describe the magnificence of what he accomplished and what the Association brings to the world with their amazing and wonderful website. Get ready for the musical trip of a lifetime! Enjoy!