Alan Lomax: The Song Hunter

8pm 24th January 2015 -BBC Radio 4

In Defence Of Pushy Parents


To mark the centenary of the birth of Alan Lomax in January 1915, Billy Bragg presents a new and original thesis. Bragg argues that the legendary "song hunter" was a vital, but overlooked figure in the Civil Rights Movement, whose recorded archive would become the authoritative repository of black folk culture in America.

Alan Lomax is a towering figure in the history of music, afforded a front page obituary by the New York Times following his death in 2002. A pioneering musicologist, folklorist and broadcaster, in the 1930s Lomax extensively recorded American folk and blues musicians. Over the course of his career he collected an astonishing 5000 hours of music and in-depth interviews. It was these recordings that would come to awaken the American people to their own folk tradition. Whilst Lomax' influence in sparking the folk music revival in the 1960s is well known, here we explore the politics that fuelled Lomax’s extraordinary career.