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Sing It Pretty: A Memoir (Music in American Life) Hardcover – April 2, 2008
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“She learned the tools of folklore fieldwork by transcribing the songs of rural musicians and taught herself how to play these songs, eventually joining the Almanac Singers, which included Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, as part of a growing folk movement. . . . Libraries with comprehensive folk music collections will want to own her memoir.”--Library Journal
"This volume covers much . . . of Hawes's fascinating public and private lives in folk music, and includes numerous photographs and a helpful chronology. . . . Recommended."--Choice
"This book is loaded with enjoyable anecdotes from throughout Ms. Hawes' 89 years. . . . Along the way, we meet many seminal folk music figures and, though these are characters we've all met before, thanks to Bess' storytelling skills, we often see them in a new light."--Sing Out
A leader in the development of state and federal programs supporting traditional arts and folk cultures, Bess Lomax Hawes grew up with her father John Lomax and brother Alan in the first family of American folk music. Her compelling account of the folk music boom of the mid-twentieth century and the development of “public-sector” folklore includes family friends Ruth Crawford Seeger and Carl Sandburg, fellow Almanac Singers Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, and other musicians and artists. Her own creative endeavors as producer of American folk culture films, author of academic papers and books, and coauthor of the Kingston Trio’s hit “MTA Song” (adapted from a local political campaign jingle) unfold alongside her legacy of teaching guitar and American folk music to thousands of adults in Los Angeles. Whether teaching anthropology to college students, learning singing games from the Georgia Sea Island Singers, or directing the Folk and Traditional Arts Program at the National Endowment for the Arts, Hawes remains dedicated to preserving and appreciating the traditional cultures of America.
Top customer reviews
However, you need to be aware that this is not a standard autobiography. It concerns subjects she wants to be remembered and she doesn't want to say anything negative about anybody. Consequently, there are large and noticeable gaps in the story. For example, if you are buying this book only for a hoped-for definitive history of the Almanac Singers, you won't get your wish. There are a few pages about them that will probably raise more questions than give answers. On the other hand, if you are interested in her years with the federal government, you will surely be pleased with the amount of discussion on that part of her life.
It is predominantly an intellectual memoir, and she was (she died recently) a perceptive thinker and observer. The section on "Happy Birthday To You" will leave you stunned with admiration! There are some fabulous photographs that may be worth the price of the book to you. She writes engagingly and did have an interesting life.
I doubt we will soon have another biography of her, so get this one while you can!