Title: Alan Lomax dictates various correspondence (part 2)
Date recorded: January 1, 1981 to January 14, 1981
Date recorded: January 1, 1981 to January 14, 1981
Tape number: T3683
Track Number: 2
Archive ID: T3683b
Belongs to: Lomax, 1981
Note: Alan calls Marian Anderson and tells her his plan to recreate the 1939 White House concert. He would like show a film of her singing Ave Maria, tell the story of her concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and read the statement she made at Roosevelt's memorial after his death. Marian Anderson says she would like to be present but can't promise because of her health. Alan Lomax: The Roosevelts at least began to open the door to civil rights. He asks if Miss Anderson remembers anything about the concert. Marion Anderson: It was a breathtaking affair, terribly exciting, bigger than anything you can find words to express. Alan Lomax: Are you talking about the White House concert? Marian Anderson: No, the Lincoln Memorial concert. Alan Lomax: Of course, it shook the world! Marian Anderson: The Roosevelts did a tremendous lot for this country. Of course, so far as the king and queen [of England] were concerned, that was very moving. I had to learn to curtsey. Alan Lomax: Did anything special happen? Marian Anderson: We went out. The king and queen were there. Alan Lomax: You ended the evening of music, I recall. Marian Anderson: I don't recall. It brings to my mind the need to write things down. Alan Lomax: I assume you have written your biography. Marian Anderson: We wrote a little something, but it's not up to date. Alan Lomax: About the story of the Lincoln memorial steps, your manager told you the DAR [Daughters of the American Revolution] had refused [because she was African American] to let you sing at Constitution Hall [which they owned]. Marian Anderson: That's what we were told. We were in San Francisco when the story broke. Alan Lomax: How did Mrs. Roosevelt enter into it? She was of help to [the famous impressario] Sol Hurok in arranging the Lincoln Memorial concert, do you know about that? Marian Anderson: No, I don't remember. She withdrew her membership in the DAR. Miss Childers and some other people in Washington who were very diligent also helped. Alan Lomax: It did have an enormous effect. Marian Anderson: Yes, it did. And there had to be someone who was strong enough, and sincere enough, to have an effect. Alan Lomax: You mean Mrs. Roosevelt? Marian Anderson: Yes. There are many things for which I can be very greatly thankful, and I mean to be. Series of dictated requests to ethnographic film makers for bibliographic information about dance film clips for Alan Lomax's world survey of dance style book. In return, he offers copies of his recent articles. Fragment of letter explaining educational usefulness of training films about Cantometrics, Choreometrics, Parlametrics, and everyday behavior. Alan Lomax: I understand the ICA uses regularly the Cantometrics training tapes and plans to acquire Choreometrics training films. Last year UNESCO inaugurated program of sending teams of cultural organizers from various countries for training in the US. A briefing voyage of the Tunisian delegation ended with a visit in my laboratory where for three days where I offered three days of intensive techniques on this project. They agreed it was by far the most important experience they had in their training period and I append a letter from a UNESCO official from their country responsible for their coming to work with me. Dictation about Alan Lomax's recent lecture at Western Louisiana University at Lafayette commenting about CODAFIL's sponsorship of French language teaching in Louisiana. Alan Lomax: I played a small but important part in the revival of interest in Cajun culture among scholars and folklorists through my 1930s recordings and by sending Ralph Rinzler to help Cajun folk musicians. This interest led directly to passage of bill in the state legislature providing that French be taught in public schools. I was later horrified to discover that teachers were being imported from Paris and Belgium [to impart "correct" pronunciation]. This is contrary to modern ideas of vernacular culture. Scholars have expressed dismay and friends have asked me to comment. On the one hand, official interest in things French has had a greatly beneficial effect of arousing interest in Cajun culture. On the other hand, however, Cantometric analysis reveals the African and American Indian stylistic patterns in Cajun speech and folklore that make them interesting to folklorlists. These are now endangered as, possibly, is Cajun music since music patterns are tied to speech patterns. After my speech the head of CODAFIL has called and written protesting my interference and we are now engaged in a lively controversy. Dictation about Bess Lomax Hawes's role as Folk Arts Coordinator and Program Developer for the NEA. An interview by Alan Lomax of Lily May Ledford [or surrogate?] and a reading of her memoir of the Coon Creek Girls' 1939 White House performance before the king and queen of England. Lily May Ledford: Mrs. Roosevelt had liked us and had chosen us to represent the Ohio Valley. Her three favorite songs were: "How Many Biscuits Can You Eat?" and "Get Along, Miss Cindy." We played "The Soldier And The Lady" for the royal couple and there was some fast fiddling for the square dancers that Bascom Lamar Lunsford had brought up. Other performers were Lawrence Tibbet, tenor, Marian Anderson, and Kate Smith. Alan Lomax singing Western songs. Their dresses. The jewels, ferns, and chandeliers. Anecdote about 20 dollar bill Rosie had slipped in her garter that fell on the floor in view of the king and queen. Afterwards Woodrow Wilson's widow came up to us and said "If only all our children put together had the pep of one of you girls." A recording was made the next day. Had Alan Lomax asked Mr. McQueen [one of the dancers] about his recollections? Interview with Mr. McQueen about the project of recreating the White House Evening. Mr. McQueen says he has dancers, some of whom are children of the original performers, who can put on a fine show. Dances performed were King's Highway, Ocean Wave, London Bridge (both to the tune of "Down Yonder.") Alan Lomax: What do you remember? How did you feel? McQueen: It was a great experience for the mountain people. Of 20 musicians only one was a Republican. We were always strong Democrats. Alan Lomax: Not because of FDR's policies? McQueen: I worked in the Federal Service in the Commerce Department under Luther Hodges [in the 1950s]. At the concert I could see the front row: the king and queen, the President and Mrs. Roosevelt, and Secretary of State Cordell Hull and his wife. My brother was a musician, he carried a bass fiddle, hit the bridge against a door and bang! The FBI thought someone had blowed up the White House. I think we danced about 10 minutes. One of the dancers got so excited I think a shoe hit the ceiling. Nobody can do the double shuffle like we do here in the mountains. Interview with Grace Tully Alan Lomax: I understand Roosevelt liked sea chanteys. They say he learned some from his mother. Grace Tully: He rarely ever sang. I never heard him. Alan Lomax: His son said he loved to sing Methodist hymns. Grace Tully: I wouldn't know. I'm a Catholic. My sister had a lovely voice and she used to sing at some of those parties. In the evening we used to go to Joe Kennedy's place in the country. Anybody that could do anything did. Alan Lomax: What did you and your sister dance? Grace Tully: Irish jigs. I'm Irish - I'm an Irish American that is. Alan Lomax: Where did you learn it? Rose Tully: We made it up. Tommy [Corcoran] would play something on the piano. I'll consult my sister. Tommy and his father used to sing at these parties. Roosevelt liked "The Yellow Rose of Texas." He liked the version that he first heard. I found sheet music of that version for him. Everyone thinks that "Home On The Range" was his favorite song, but that was Marvin McIntyre's favorite song. Alan Lomax: Did FDR have a favorite song? Grace Tully: I'm sure he liked any country song or folk song that he heard. Dictation: Alan recommending Diane Parker for a job
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About the session: Alan Lomax dictates correspondence to various colleagues, including to Ahmet Ertegun and William R. Geddes (University of Sydney, Australia).
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