Lomax Archives Releasing 60-Track Collection of Bessie Jones with Georgia Sea Island Singers

The Alan Lomax Archives/Association For Cultural Equity is excited to announce the exclusive Bandcamp release GET IN UNION featuring Bessie Jones. This collection will be issued as a paid download and streaming June 1.

Bessie Jones was one of the most popular performers on the 1960s and ’70s folk circuit, appearing usually at the helm of the Georgia Sea Island Singers at colleges, festivals, the Poor People’s March on Washington, and Jimmy Carter’s inauguration. GET IN UNION is a collection of classic recordings with the Singers, combined with previously unavailable solo and small-group performances captured by Alan Lomax between 1959 and 1966. This digital-only release by the Alan Lomax Archive is an expanded version of the two-CD set issued by Tompkins Square in 2013, featuring nine previously unreleased tracks.

Alan Lomax first visited the Georgia Sea Island of St. Simons in June of 1935 with folklorist Mary Elizabeth Barnicle and author Zora Neale Hurston. There they met the remarkable Spiritual Singers Society of Coastal Georgia, as the group was then called, and recorded several hours of their songs and dances for the Library of Congress. Returning 25 years later, Lomax found that the Singers were still active, and had been enriched by the addition of Bessie Jones, a South Georgia native with a massive collection of songs going back to the slavery era.

Over the next several years, Lomax and Jones worked together to present, promote, and teach Southern black folk song across the country, from nightclubs to elementary schools. GET IN UNION consists of remastered audio from 24-bit digital transfers of Lomax’s original tapes and notes by the Alan Lomax Archive’s Nathan Salsburg and Anna Lomax Wood, who accompanied her father on his 1960 recordings of Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers.

Track Listing:

1. Sheep Sheep Don’t You Know the Road [1b]
2. You Better Mind [1a]
3. Plumb the Line [3]
4. O Day (Yonder Come Day) [1b]
5. Moses Don’t Get Lost [1a]
6. Blow Gabriel [1a]
7. Got To Lie Down (How Shall I Rise) [3]
8. Sometimes [1a]
9. Shoo Turkey [3]
10. Gator [3]
11. Adam In the Garden [1a]
12. Daniel In the Lion’s Den [1a]
13. Little David, Play On Your Harp [1a]
14. You Got to Reap Just What You Sow / Just A Little Talk With Jesus [4]
15. Go Wash In That Beautiful Stream [3]*
16. How Much I Owe* [3]
17. O Mary Don’t You Weep [1a]
18. Throw Me Overboard [3]
19. Going To Chattanooga [3]
20. See Aunt Dinah [1b]
21. John Henry [3]
22. Sink ‘Em Low [1b]
23. Diamond Joe [3]
24. Live Humble [1a]
25. Get In Union [1b]
26. Elephant Fair [3]
27. Uncle Ned [3]
28. That Suits Me [2]
29. Got On My Traveling Shoes [5]*
30. No Hiding Place Down Here [3]
31. O Death [1a]
32. Dead and Gone [3]
33. Prayer [1a]
34. Sign of the Judgment [1a]
35. This Train Is A Clean Train [3]
36. The Devil Been to My House Today [3]*
37. Turkle Dove [1b]
38. Beulah Land [2]
39. Let Me Fly [1b]
40. Walk Daniel [1a]
41. I’m Gonna Lay Down My Life for My Lord [1b]
42. Sandy Ree (Sangaree) [3]*
43. Way Down Yonder In the Brickyard [3]
44. Bob Young’s song and whoop [3]
45. Read ‘Em, John [5]
46. Before This Time Another Year [5]
47. Once There Was No Sun [5]
48. There Was An Old Lady from Brewster [5]
49. Little Johnny Brown [5]
50. Prodigal Son [3]
51. Down to the Mire [3]*
52. Take Me to the Water [6]
53. Drinking That Wine [6]
54. Once There Was No Sun [6]
55. One Morning Soon [6]
56. There Is More Love Somewhere [3]*
57. Buzzard Lope [1a]
58. One of These Days (I) [1a]
59. One of These Days (II) [3]
60. Goodbye Everybody [3]*

*Previously unreleased.


[1a & 1b]. Georgia Sea Island Singers (not all singers, with the exception of Bessie Jones, sing on every performance): Joe Armstrong, George Cohen, Jerome Davis, John Davis, Peter Davis, Jerry Harris, Leola Harris, Bessie Jones, Viola McQueen, Henry Morrison, Willis Proctor, Ben Ramsey, Emma Lee Ramsey.

[2]. John Davis, Bessie Jones, Henry Morrison, Alberta Ramsey, and Emma Lee Ramsey with Hobart Smith (vocal and banjo); Ed Young (fife); Nat Rahmings (drum).

[3]. Bessie Jones.

[4]. McKinley Peebles (vocal and guitar) and Bessie Jones.

[5]. John Davis, Peter Davis, Mable Hillery, Bessie Jones, and Emma Lee Ramsey, with Rev. Gary Davis (vocal and guitar, “Shoes” and “Before This Time”).

[6]. Mable Hillery, Janie Hunter, Bessie Jones, and possibly Alberta Ramsey.

Association for Cultural Equity

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