Lomax, John Avery

Lomax, John Avery

(lō`măks), 1867–1948, American folklorist, b. Goodman, Miss. Lomax's first book, Cowboy Songs (1910), contained for the first time in print such songs as "The Old Chisholm Trail," "Git Along Home Little Dogies," and "Home on the Range." Collecting and recording songs in Southern penitentiaries, he discovered LeadbellyLeadbelly,
nickname of Huddie William Ledbetter,
1885–1949, American singer, b. Mooringsport, La. While wandering through Louisiana and Texas, he earned a living by playing the guitar for dances.
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, who provided the material for his Negro Folk Songs as Sung by Lead Belly (1936), which he compiled with his son, Alan Lomax, 1915–2002, b. Austin, Tex. In addition to the Leadbelly collection, father and son collaborated in compiling American Ballads and Folk Songs (1934), Our Singing Country (1941), and, with Charles and Ruth Crawford SeegerSeeger, Ruth Crawford,
1901–53, American composer and folklorist, b. East Liverpool, Ohio, as Ruth Porter Crawford, studied American Conservatory, Chicago; stepmother of Pete Seeger and mother of Mike and Peggy Seeger.
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, Folk Song: U.S.A. (1947) In 1983 Alan founded the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE) to enable the communities the songs came from to profit from them. ACE's Global Jukebox (2017) provides Internet access to more than 6,000 songs Lomax recorded or acquired; the project was completed by his daughter, the anthropologist Anna Lomax Wood.

The younger Lomax began his career as a folklorist and musicologist as a teenager when he recorded folk artists visited by his father. He was the first person to record not only Leadbelly, but such musical greats as Woody GuthrieGuthrie, Woody
(Woodrow Wilson Guthrie), 1912–67, American folk singer, guitarist, and composer, b. Okemah, Okla. Guthrie was an itinerant musician and laborer from the age of 13.
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 and Muddy WatersWaters, Muddy,
1915–83, African-American blues singer and guitarist, b. Rolling Fork, Miss., as McKinley Morganfield. As a teenager he began singing and playing traditional country blues on harmonica and guitar, and in 1941 he was recorded by Alan Lomax for the Library of
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. He also compiled The Folk Songs of North America (1960) and wrote a memoir of his Southern travels, The Land Where the Blues Began (1993).

Bibliography

See J. A. Lomax's autobiography (1947); biography of Alan Lomax by J. Szwed (2010); T. Piazza, The Southern Journey of Alan Lomax (2012).

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