In the current issue of Songlines (October 2015, #110), we selected the essential list of ten Song Collectors. You can read the full piece here, but here were my choices:
Prospect Hill (Music Maker, 2015)
Nicknamed the ‘American Songster,’ Flemons has devoted a large part of his career to the study of the African-American song tradition. For his solo debut he delves into songs that pre-date the Mississippi Delta blues from various vernacular traditions. There are even some originals here, but ones that sound as if they were written over 100 years ago. Reviewed in #106.
The Fade in Time (Nest Collective Records, 2015)
Mercury-nominated Sam Lee is a modern-day song collector extraordinaire. Dedicated to collecting and sharing traditional songs from across the UK and Ireland, Lee has been a key force in breathing new life into these songs – especially those of the Romani and Traveller communities. He also runs the Nest Collective, which hosts folk gigs in London. Reviewed in #107.
The Alan Lomax Collection Sampler (Rounder, 1997)
Alan Lomax is a song collector like no other; starting his field recording career in 1933, he would go on to spend his life devoted to capturing songs from every corner of the world on tape. This particular release features music he recorded from the American Deep South, Ireland, the Caribbean, Italy and Spain. So important to the concept of world music, Lomax has even earned himself a coveted space in this issue’s A-Z of World Music (see p34).