Alan Lomax

Musician, Musical Artist

1915 – 2002

35

Who was Alan Lomax?

Alan Lomax was one of the great American field collectors of folk music of the 20th century. He was also a folklorist, ethnomusicologist, archivist, writer, scholar, political activist, oral historian, and film-maker. Lomax also produced recordings, concerts, and radio shows in the US and in England, which played an important role in both the American and British folk revivals of the 1940s, '50s and early '60s. During the New Deal, with his father, famed folklorist and collector John A. Lomax and later alone and with others, Lomax recorded thousands of songs and interviews for the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress on aluminum and acetate discs.

After 1942, when Congress cut off the Library of Congress's funding for folk song collecting, Lomax continued to collect independently in Britain, Ireland, the Caribbean, Italy, and Spain, as well as the United States, using the latest recording technology, assembling a treasure trove of American and international culture. With the start of the Cold War, Lomax continued to speak out for a public role for folklore, even as academic folklorists turned inward. He devoted much of the latter part of his life to advocating what he called Cultural Equity, which he sought to put on a solid theoretical foundation through to his Cantometrics research. In the 1970s and 80s Lomax advised the Smithsonian Institution's Folklife Festival and produced a series of films about folk music, American Patchwork, which aired on PBS in 1991. In his late seventies, Lomax completed a long-deferred memoir, The Land Where the Blues Began, linking the birth of the blues to debt peonage, segregation, and forced labor in the American South.

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Born
Jan 31, 1915
Austin
Also known as
  • Lomax, Alan
Parents
Siblings
Spouses
Children
Ethnicity
  • White American
Nationality
  • United States of America
Profession
Education
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Harvard University
  • Columbia University
  • Choate Rosemary Hall
Employment
  • Library of Congress
Died
Jul 19, 2002
Safety Harbor

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

Citation

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"Alan Lomax." Biographies.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 25 Jun 2022. <https://www.biographies.net/people/en/alan_lomax>.

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