The Catholic University of America

Feb. 18, 2008

Folklife Specialist to Speak About Black Folk-Music Researchers

Folklorists John and Alan Lomax were pioneers in collecting, studying and disseminating black folk music. They were an African-American father-son team who went out into the field with recording apparatus to capture an art form that was both authentic and ephemeral.

Students in the Catholic University course Media and the Underclass and other members of the CUA community will have a rare opportunity to learn about the Lomaxes' contribution to black folksong on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 5 p.m. when one of folklife's preeminent scholars, Todd Harvey, curator of the Library of Congress' Alan Lomax Collection, visits CUA as part of Black History Month. Harvey earned a master's degree in library and information science from Catholic University.

Harvey's multimedia presentation, "Seeking the Roots - the Lomax Legacy," will explore the contribution of African-Americans to U.S. and world music through the work of the Lomaxes. The father and son spent much of the 20th century traveling to prison farms and other field venues, recording work songs, reels, ballads and blues to find and preserve traditional music forms. Harvey's presentation includes field recordings, photos and video clips from the PBS series "American Patchwork."

Associate Professor of Media Studies Lisa Gitelman, who teaches Media and the Underclass, has long been interested in the Lomaxes and similar collectors who sought to capture a disappearing art. The course looks critically at the ways that mainstream media cover and portray the underclass, the un-and-underemployed and the working poor, as well as other poverty-related issues.

The multimedia presentation will take place in Great Room A of the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center. Harvey comes to CUA's campus directly after a European tour with the collection.

MEDIA: For more information, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy at 202-319-5600.