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Recorded Americana

June 2024
1min read

Songs of the North and South , a Decca long-playing recording (DL-8093), furnishes a musical impression of the Civil War period. Frank Luther, Zora Layman, and the Century Quartet perform 35 selections from both sides. The music expresses patriotism, love, anxiety, braveness, and humor. Many of the titles—once the hit songs of their day—have disappeared from familiarity, so that it is particularly valuable to have this collection to assist in re-creating an historic era.

Carl Sandburg recites and sings a program rich in Americana in Poet’s Gold , an RCA-Victor extended-play recording (ERB-30). In the first part of the recording, the poet reads eleven of his own compositions, most of which are on typical American subjects. The second portion consists of “From Coast to Coast in Song.” Here Sandburg draws on his experiences as a collector of folk and traditional songs and performs selections identified with various parts of our country, from “New York, Oh! What a Charming City” to “The Banks of the Sacramento.”

Another famous poet, Langston Hughes, reads on a Folkways recording, his composition The Glory of Negro History (FP-752). The essay is divided into “The Struggle” and “The Glory” and incorporates various illustrative materials including musical selections and other documentation. Hughes’ factual narrative covers the role of Negroes in American life from Phillis Wheatly and Crispus Attucks to Louis Armstrong and Ralph Bunche.

Singable and danceable melodies by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II have become a part of musical Americana. Proof of this statement is happily illustrated in the RCA-Victor recording of Oklahoma/Carousel Suites (LM-1884) as arranged and performed by Morton Gould. The Oklahoma selections can accurately be called the folk music of tomorrow.

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