African American Folksong and American Cultural Politics: The Lawrence Gellert Story


Jun 10, 2013

African American Folksong and American Cultural Politics: The Lawrence Gellert Story

by

Bruce Conforth

In African American Folksong and American Cultural Politics: The Lawrence Gellert Story, scholar and musician Bruce Conforth tells the story of one of the most unusual collections of African-American folk music ever amassed—and the remarkable story of the man who produced it: Lawrence Gellert. Compiled between the World Wars, Gellert’s recordings were immediately adopted by the American Left as the voice of the true American proletariat, with the songs—largely variants of traditional work songs or blues—dubbed by the Left as “songs of protest.

Bruce M. Conforth grew up during the folk/blues revival of the 1960s as experienced in New York City’s Greenwich Village. He received his PhD in ethnomusicology and folklore from Indiana University and served as the first Curator of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. He is now a member of the faculty of the American Culture Department at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.