Note: Alan Lomax speaks about the purpose of the concert: to celebrate the newly acquired right of African Americans to vote in the Southern states and to introduce living black traditional musicians to urban audiences. (The previous year had seen the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Jim Crow laws in the South were abolished and it became illegal to compel segregation of the 'races' in schools housing or hiring."
About the session: A concert of Southern African American "antebellum musical traditions," held in New York City's Central Park at the height of the Civil Rights era, in the summer of 1965. Produced by Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival in cooperation with the Newport Folk Foundation, the concert was directed by Ralph Rinzler and MC'd by Alan Lomax. It featured the Georgia Sea Island Singers (Bessie Jones, John Davis, Peter Davis, Emma Ramsay, and Mable Hillery), Ed Young's Southern Fife and Drum Corps, and Reverend Gary Davis. Fred McDowell's name appeared on the promotional material for the concert but apparently cancelled. The performers give commentary on their material. Joan Halifax assisted Lomax with the recording and tape box notes. (This concert was ostensibly the second the Shakespeare Festival and Newport Foundation produced that summer, with a Newport Folk Festival Preview held a month earlier.)
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