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Willis Laurence James and the Preservation of Black Religious Folk Song

Willis Laurence James and the Preservation of Black Religious Folk Song Willis Laurente James and the Preservation ol Blatk Religious Folk Song Rebecca T Cureau Willis Laurence James (1900-1966) is among a small group of black folklorists who have devoted themselves to the preservation of African-American folklore. The special qualities that suited him for his role and the significance of his contributions are eloquently summed up in the following words from his eulogy: Willis James was a sensitive spirit, keenly aware of the presence of the holy around him and especially as it found expression in the folklore of Negro people. I have known few people more deeply aware of the heart beat of Negro life .... The cultural heritage of a people expresses itself best and always in language and religion and song. Culture means in one sense at least a people's memory of themselves as people. Willis James was determined that this memory in one sphere of our life would not be destroyed-would not be lost. So most of his professional life was devoted to research in this area of our cultural life-the Negro folksong and folklore. James's multifaceted career as music educator, choral director, composer, and arranger in historically black institutions of higher education provided the ideal http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Black Sacred Music Duke University Press

Willis Laurence James and the Preservation of Black Religious Folk Song

Black Sacred Music , Volume 4 (2) – Sep 1, 1990

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Copyright
Copyright © 1990 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1043-9455
eISSN
2640-9879
DOI
10.1215/10439455-4.2.1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Willis Laurente James and the Preservation ol Blatk Religious Folk Song Rebecca T Cureau Willis Laurence James (1900-1966) is among a small group of black folklorists who have devoted themselves to the preservation of African-American folklore. The special qualities that suited him for his role and the significance of his contributions are eloquently summed up in the following words from his eulogy: Willis James was a sensitive spirit, keenly aware of the presence of the holy around him and especially as it found expression in the folklore of Negro people. I have known few people more deeply aware of the heart beat of Negro life .... The cultural heritage of a people expresses itself best and always in language and religion and song. Culture means in one sense at least a people's memory of themselves as people. Willis James was determined that this memory in one sphere of our life would not be destroyed-would not be lost. So most of his professional life was devoted to research in this area of our cultural life-the Negro folksong and folklore. James's multifaceted career as music educator, choral director, composer, and arranger in historically black institutions of higher education provided the ideal

Journal

Black Sacred MusicDuke University Press

Published: Sep 1, 1990

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