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Commentary by Vera Hall on the song \u27John saw the number\u27 and maintaining a Christian perspective through adversity

By Alan Lomax and Vera Hall


These recordings of oral history, play songs, blues, spirituals, and stories were made in 1948 when Alan Lomax invited Vera Hall to come from her home in Livingston, Alabama, to New York City for a concert. Vera Hall\u27s mother had been a slave, and Vera\u27s date of birth was not recorded. Her artistry and repertoire were brought to John A. Lomax\u27s attention by Ruby Pickens Tartt, a painter and folklorist from Livingston who introduced Vera and her cousin, Dock Reed, to him in 1937. The elder Lomax recorded her again in 1940, describing her as having \u27the loveliest voice I had ever recorded.\u27 Alan Lomax used the oral histories of Vera Hall and Dock Reed as the basis of The Rainbow Sign (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1959), a study of African-American spirituality. After her death in 1964, Alan Lomax said: \u27It is from singers like Vera Hall that all of us who love folk music in America have everything to learn. Her performances were all graced with dignity and with love. Her sense of timing and beat were perfection itself. But all this is analysis. The mystery of Vera Hall and her art, while hinted at in the recordings we will always treasure, lies buried in the state where once the stars fell.\u27 For a summary of Vera Hall\u27s life see Gabriel Greenberg\u27s article, reproduced at In 2005 Vera Hall was inducted into the Alabama Women\u27s Hall of Fame

Topics: Ethnomusicology, Music
Publisher: eGrove
Year: 1948
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