Academic journal article Yearbook for Traditional Music

Classic African American Songsters from Smithsonian Folkways

Academic journal article Yearbook for Traditional Music

Classic African American Songsters from Smithsonian Folkways

Article excerpt

Classic African American Songsters from Smithsonian Folkways. 2014. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings SFW CD 40211. 2014. Mastered by Pete Reiniger. Compiled and annotated by Barry Lee Pearson and Jeff Place. 40-page booklet with notes in English. B/w photographs, bibliography. CD, 21 tracks (60:27).

Genre labels, while convenient for marketing purposes, are often too narrow to fully describe the breadth of artists' sounds. Musicians like Lead Belly, Papa Charlie Jackson, Josh White, or the Mississippi Sheiks are often lumped into a nebulous blues category, although the songs they sang or tunes they played were much more diverse than that label suggests. A number of African American performers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had repertoires of hundreds of popular tunes/songs in a variety of styles, from ragtime to minstrel songs to blues to Tin Pan Alley compositions, as well as various melodies popular among different immigrant groups. These musicians were often called musicianers or songsters.

On this disc, Barry Lee Pearson and Jeff Place have compiled twenty-one representative examples of this songster tradition, drawing on recordings held in the Smithsonian Folkways archive. …

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