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Introduction

Introduction At the time of his death in 1966, Willis Laurence James had lived to see a gradual turning of the tide in the direction of appreciation for the folk traditions that evolved in America during the era of African enslavement. Born at the tum of the century, when many of the old­ est black traditions were still transmitted orally in rural areas throughout the South, James began to collect in his youthful mem­ ory songs that he later raised to the level of choral artistry. He was among that early group of well-educated and highly talented black musicians who undertook the study and preservation of a music widely considered the only indigenous American folk song next to that of the Native Americans. There was hardly a time in his life when James was not drawn to the culture from which black folk song evolved. As a result of his work as a folklorist, folk song arranger, and original composer, his reputation as an authority on black folk life spread from the local and regional levels to the national arena during the 1950s, at which time he began receiving invitations to lecture throughout the coun­ try and abroad. In 1951 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Black Sacred Music Duke University Press

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Copyright
Copyright © 1995 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1043-9455
eISSN
2640-9879
DOI
10.1215/10439455-9.1-2.ix
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

At the time of his death in 1966, Willis Laurence James had lived to see a gradual turning of the tide in the direction of appreciation for the folk traditions that evolved in America during the era of African enslavement. Born at the tum of the century, when many of the old­ est black traditions were still transmitted orally in rural areas throughout the South, James began to collect in his youthful mem­ ory songs that he later raised to the level of choral artistry. He was among that early group of well-educated and highly talented black musicians who undertook the study and preservation of a music widely considered the only indigenous American folk song next to that of the Native Americans. There was hardly a time in his life when James was not drawn to the culture from which black folk song evolved. As a result of his work as a folklorist, folk song arranger, and original composer, his reputation as an authority on black folk life spread from the local and regional levels to the national arena during the 1950s, at which time he began receiving invitations to lecture throughout the coun­ try and abroad. In 1951

Journal

Black Sacred MusicDuke University Press

Published: Sep 1, 1995

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