The Delta, digitized
The first recordings of musicians such as Muddy Waters and David "Honeyboy" Edwards are soon to be available to hear free online
Following an award of $20,000 from the Grammy Foundation the Association for Cultural Equity/Alan Lomax Archive is to digitize and catalog the 27 hours of recordings from the 1941-1942 Library of Congress/Fisk University collection, said to be the most diverse aural representation of the Mississippi Delta's African-American musical traditions.
The collection originated from the summer 1941 and 1942 sociological study in Coahoma County by a team from the Library of Congress and Nashville's Fisk University that included folklorist Alan Lomax, then assistant in charge of the Library’s archive of folk song. The survey garnered some 27 hours of music and speech on 92 acetate discs including string bands, field hollers, ballads, children's game songs, lullabies, hoedown instrumentals and breakdowns. The country blues the team captured became legendary.
At Stovall Plantation the team made the first recordings of McKinley Morganfield, later known as Muddy Waters (pictured right in London 1979 by Brian O'Connor). In the Dipsey Doodle juke joint in Clarksdale they met David "Honeyboy" Edwards. Robert Johnson had recently died, but the team tracked down the mentor of "Little Robert”, Son House, who performed his blues in a string-band setting.
The recordings will be transferred to digital formats and catalogued for free online access. More at culturalequity.org.
Existing Cultural Equity digitizations can be heard at research.culturalequity.org/audio-guide.jsp.
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