Alan Lomax Biography Essay

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“The essence of America lies not in its headlined heroes…but in the everyday folks who live and die unknown, yet leave their dreams as legacies.” No words could be more representative of the career of the speaker, Alan Lomax, the legendary ethnomusicologist who recorded thousands of hours of southern folk music. Lomax’s extensive work over the course of over sixty years not only revived interest in previously obscure artists and genres, but laid the groundwork for later American performers, ranging from blues to folk to rock. He started his work at the age of seventeen, working in countries such as Haiti, Italy, Scotland, and countless others, as well as travelling to Africa. But his earliest and most prolific work took place in Texas, where he was actually born and spent most of his life. It was here that Alan began to record under the tutelage of his father, John, who was also interested in folklore and regional music. Born on January 31, 1915 in Austin, TX, Alan Lomax became the third of four children to John Lomax and his wife. John Lomax, who at one time had been a banker, had rather unconventional interests: southwestern music and cowboy songs. This interest would very shortly…show more content…
Still hauling hundreds of pounds of equipment, he had received an upgrade. Lomax now traveled by car, a 1935 Plymouth to be exact, and instead of tapes or a cylinder machine, he carried a “Presto instantaneous disc recorder, a still camera, and a moving image camera,” all of which were state of the art equipment at the time (“Michigan-I-O”). His journey took three months, after which he returned with 8 reels of film and nearly 300 discs. Michigan had only become a state in 1937, and as such, there were barely any paved roads. Lomax’s recordings that instead of hicks, as they were likely believed to be, the people of Michigan came from diverse cultural backgrounds, both from Europe and

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