Note: Vera Hall started remembering the words to songs when she was around ten or twelve. Alan Lomax asks what she was like as a baby. Vera Hall's mother told her that she could be left alone and would entertain herself for hours. She was the youngest. Her brother, Neamias, died in childhood. Her sister Estelle was five years older; and Bessie, the oldest, was seven years older than Vera. Their father rented land and raised hogs, corn, potatoes, peanuts, peas. They had plenty to eat but not a lot of clothes. Her father would share food with many people and they would repay him by working for him during harvest times. Vera Hall feels that the Lord has blessed her and the people around her. Her oldest sister Bessie died when she was 27 or 31. Women, who work at chores all day and prepare all the meals, have more to do than men do.
About the session: This session of oral history and songs represents the only time that Vera Ward Hall left her home state of Alabama. She was invited to New York by Alan Lomax to perform in the Fourth Annual Festival of Contemporary American Music at Columbia University in the City of New York, May 10th through May 16th, 1948, sponsored by the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University. Vera performed on Saturday, May 15th, 8:30pm, at the McMillin Theater. The concert was entitled "Ballads, Hoe-Downs, Spirituals (White and Negro), and Blues," with performances by Texas Gladden, Hobart Smith, Jean Ritchie, Brownie McGee, Vera Hall, Dan Burley, Pete Seeger, and narrations by Alan Lomax. These recordings were made not at the concert, but during the remainder of Vera Hall’s stay in New York with Alan Lomax. Lomax is joined by his wife Elizabeth, their daughter, and an unidentified couple, who can be heard throughout the session. This session is comprised of tapes recorded at 15 IPS, probably used as working sequences for a possible LP. Alan Lomax used an echo box to produce the effect heard on Vera Hall's voice. These recordings have been compiled into an individual session because they were not recorded as candid interviews, but as conscious attempts at professional recording for commercial release. One of the tape boxes is given a date of Sunday, May 23rd, and this date has been assumed for the entire session.
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