Plans have been announced to make Alan Lomax’s immense musical archive available digitally, reports the New York Times. The world’s most famous folklorist spent his life travelling the globe recording music in the field and his archive is estimated to hold over 5000 hours of music (approximately 17,000 songs), 400,000 feet of film,3000 videotapes, 5000 photographs and stacks of manuscripts. Responsible for bringing artists like Woodie Guthrie, Lead Belly and Muddy Waters to the attention of the world, Alan Lomax is regarded by many to be one of the most important figures in music history and initially spoke of a ‘Global Jukebox’ – a method of sharing the world’s music that was accessible to all – long before the Internet was conceived. Although snippets have been available to hear on the Cultural Equity website for some time, plans are now underway to make the songs available in full.
To celebrate what would have been Lomax’s 97th birthday, the Global Jukebox label has released The Alan Lomax Collection From the American Folklife Center, a sixteen track primer featuring disparate field recordings from various locations and a book of his photos will be published in the fall of 2012. Below is a video of Alan Lomax discussing the Sacred Harp: