Alan Lomax Biography

Alan Lomax was a folklorist, historian, writer and political activist.Explore this biography to learn more about his profile, childhood, life and timeline.

Alan Lomax

Quick Facts

Gender: Male
Birthday: 31 January 1915
Died: 19 July 2002
Nationality: American
Famous: Musicians
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Father: John Lomax
Education: Harvard University, Columbia University, University of Texas at Austin, Choate Rosemary Hall
Awards: John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, National Medal of Arts, Grammy Trustees Award, Library of Congress Living Legend

Alan Lomax was a brilliant folklorist, historian, writer and political activist and one of the most renowned collectors of folklore music of the 20th century. In 1986, Alan Lomax was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Reagan and also the Library of Congress Living Legend Award in 2000. Hailed as one of the most prominent collectors of folk music, Alan Lomax contributed immensely to the American as well as the British folk festivals of 1940s-60s. Lomax is credited with recording innumerable songs and interviews for the archive of American folk song.

Alan Lomax Biography

Alan Lomax was born in Austin on 31st of January, 1915. His father, John A. Lomax, was also a renowned folklorist and author under whose guidance young Lomax started recording songs sung by sharecroppers and prisoners in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. In 1936 he earned his BA degree in Philosophy from the University of Texas and later pursued graduate studies from Columbia University and University of Pennsylvania. While he was studying at the University of Texas Lomax read Nietzsche whose woks influenced him a great deal to pursue philosophy. He wrote a number of columns for the school paper, The Daily Texan but when his editorial on birth control was not published, Lomax resigned.
Lomax worked as the Assistant in Charge of the Archive of Folk Song of the Library of Congress From 1937 to 1942. The library was enriched by contributions made by his father and several others who offered more than ten thousand field recordings. Lomax also hosted a show called American Folk Songs and Wellsprings of Music, which was broadcasted daily in the schools with the sole intention of highlighting the nexus between American folk and classical orchestral music. During the 1940s he also produced one of the most acclaimed series of commercial folk music albums for Decca records. Lomax moved to London ion 1950s, where he edited Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music which consisted of 18 volumes. He returned to New York in 1959 and organized a concert, Folksong '59, in Carnegie Hall. Later, in 1962 he also co-produced an album called Freedom in the Air: Albany Georgia. From 1942-1979 Lomax was repeatedly investigated by the FBI for having communist affiliations, but nothing incriminating could ever be found. In 1983, Lomax established ‘The Association for Cultural Equity (ACE)’, which was situated at Fine Arts Campus of Hunter College in New York City.
Alan Lomax got married to Elizabeth Lyttleton Harold in 1937. The couple had a daughter a daughter, Anne (later known as Anna). Elizabeth. After divorcing his first wife, in 1949, Alan Lomax married Antoinette Marchand on August 26, 1961. They got divorced in 1967. This great musicologist passed away on July 19, 2002 at the age of 87.

Legacy

During the World War II Lomax, who was then serving the army, produced and hosted several radio programs concerning the war effort. The 1944 "ballad opera", The Martins and the Coys, which was telecasted in England by the BBC, was released on Rounder Records in 2000 featuring Will Geer, Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie, Arthur Smith, Pete Seeger, Sonny Terry and Fiddlin. Around 17,400 recordings of Lomax from 1946 onwards are available online. Lomax also worked in later phase of his career on the interactive multimedia educational computer project known as the Global Jukebox. It features 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, and 5,000 photographs.

Awards & Achievements

Alan Lomax was awarded the National Medal of Arts from President Reagan in 1986.
He also received a Library of Congress Living Legend Award in 2000.
In 2001 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy from Tulane University.
He also won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award in 1993 for his book The Land Where the Blues Began.
In 2003 Lomax was awarded a posthumous Grammy Trustees Award for his contributions to folk music.

Timeline

1915: Alan Lomax was born on January 31 in Austin, Texas.
1936: He received his BA degree in Philosophy from the University of Texas.
1937-1942: Lomax worked as the Assistant in Charge of the Archive of Folk Song of the Library of Congress.
1937: Alan Lomax got married to Elizabeth Lyttleton Harold.
1950s: Lomax moved to London where he edited Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music.
1959: Organized a concert, Folksong '59, at Carnegie Hall in New York.
1962: He also co-produced an album called Freedom in the Air: Albany Georgia
1986: Was awarded the National Medal of Arts from President Reagan.
1983: Lomax established ‘The Association for Cultural Equity (ACE).
2002: He died on July 19 at the age of 87.

Citation Information

Article Title

Alan Lomax Biography

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Last Updated

June 05, 2019

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