Article Regional Song Sampler: The Southeast

Sheet Music: Are You From Dixie?
Are You From Dixie? Lyrics by Jack Yellen and music by George L. Cobb. Select the link to view this item.

Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The Southeast is a region widely recognized for its distinctive history and culture. Although major centers of industry and commerce developed in the post-WWII era, it remains largely agricultural. Its culture reflects its history of cash-crop agriculture, including cotton and rice plantations. This economy prompted the importation of hundreds of thousands of African slaves, as well as an influx of many Scots and Irish settlers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The confluence of these musical traditions in the South was a leading influence on many genres of contemporary American music. The early development of commercial recordings included the founding of Columbia in the District of Columbia, in 1901. In the latter part of the twentieth century, Tennessee became an important center for commercial popular music, including country music, rockabilly, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll.

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  • "Come by Here," sung in Sea Islands Dialect (Gullah) by H. Wylie. Recorded by Robert Winslow Gordon in 1926. This is the earliest known recording of the song that came to be known as "Kumbaya." Noise on the wax cylinder recording obscures the song in the middle. No location given, but Wylie was probably from coastal South Carolina or Georgia. (audio)
  • "The Southern Soldier," a Civil War song sung by Minta Morgan. Recorded by John A. Lomax, 1937. (audio)
  • "I Ain't Got Nobody Much," composed by Spencer Williams, sung by Marion Harris. Victor, 1916. Spencer Williams was a performer and composer born and educated in New Orleans, Louisiana. Like a number of African American artists of his era, he moved to Chicago to pursue his career. Better known today as "I Ain't Got Nobody," this was one of his most popular songs. (audio)
  • "Dixie Line" ("Are You from Dixie?") performed by Buster Ezell. Recorded by John Wesley Work, III, 1941. This song by New York composer George L. Cobb with lyrics by Polish-born Jack Yellen is one of many popular songs about "Dixie" written primarily for Northern and Midwestern stages in the early twentieth century (1916). Here, blues artist Buster Ezell, from Georgia, gives his southern take on the song. (audio)
  • "Carrie," performed by Vera Hall. Adell Hall Ward, known as Vera Hall, worked as a cook and laundress in Livingston, Alabama, but was sought after by folklorists because of her singing ability and repertoire of sacred and secular songs. This recording was made by John A. and Ruby Lomax in 1939. (audio)
  • "Carolina," by A.E. Blackmar, (no date, ca. 1865). A.E. Blackmar was a composer of patriotic music for the Confederacy during the Civil War. This song is about the destruction in South Carolina, and hope for a better future. (sheet music)
  • "Hesitation Blues," sung by Bascom Lamar Lunsford. Recorded by Robert Winslow Gordon in 1925. This blues song has many variations and was both published and performed by many artists. Folklorist Bascom Lamar Lunsford of North Carolina learned and documented folksongs throughout the Southeast. This song includes a verse about the boll weevil, which was causing widespread devastation to cotton crops in the early 1920s. (audio)
  • "The Old Ninty Seven," sung by Fred J. Lewey. Recorded by Robert Winslow Gordon in Concord, North Carolina, 1925. The Southern Fast Mail train number 97 derailed near Danville, Virginia in 1903, falling from a trestle bridge. The song, with several people claiming authorship, became the first song copyright suit to be appealed before the Supreme Court. Folklorist Gordon testified during the initial litigation. (audio)
  • Dale Jett and the Carter Singers perform a Carter Family Tribute, performed at the Library of Congress, 2005. Dale Jett is the son of Janette Carter and the grandson of A.P and Sara Carter of the Carter Family performers. (webcast)
  • "Little David," performed by the Halloway High School Quartet of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Recorded by John Wesley Work, III, 1940. (audio)
  • "Roll on Buddy," performed by Aunt Molly Jackson. The singer is from Clay County, Kentucky. Recorded by Alan Lomax, 1939. (audio)
  • Gandydancer: String Band Music from West Virginia, performance at the Library of Congress, 2007. (webcast)
  • "Sprinkle Coal Dust on my Grave," performed by Orville J. Jenks. Recorded by George Korson in in Welch, West Virginia, 1940. (illustrated sound recording).
  • "Hunting Song," sung by John Josh, Richard Osceola, Robert Osceola, and Barfield Johns. Seminole song from the Green Corn Dance, recorded by Corita Doggett Corse and Robert Cornwall, July 25, 1940. (audio)
  • "First Time I Come Into This Countree," sung by an unidentified Bahamian American quartet. Recorded by Stetson Kennedy, in Key West, Florida, January 23, 1940. Bahamian American settlers of southern Florida formed the largest population of free African Americans in the United States before emancipation. (audio)
  • "Duermate mi niño," a Cuban lullaby sung by Zenaida Beuron. Recorded by Stetson Kennedy in Tampa, Florida, August 23, 1939. (audio)
  • "Merce," sung in Spanish by Adela Martinez with band. A Cuban dance song. Recorded by Herbert Halpert in Tampa, Florida, June 21, 1939. (audio)
  • "Misirlou," a traditional love song sung in Greek by Jennie Castrounis. Recorded by Alton Morris and Carita Doggett Corse in Tarpon Springs, Florida, October 4,1939. (audio)
  • "Halimuhfack," sung by anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. She describes to folklorist Herbert Halpert how she learned the song and how she collected songs. Hurston was born in Alabama and grew up in Florida. She documented African American songs, stories, and lore throughout the south and in the Caribbean. Recorded by Herbert Halpert and Stetson Kennedy in Florida, June 18, 1939.
  • "My Old Kentucky Home," sung by Edward Favor. E. Berliner's Gramophone recording, 1897. This song by Stephen Foster is the state song of Kentucky, famously sung at the opening of the Kentucky Derby. In 1986 the Kentucky Legislature officially changed the offensive word "darkies" to "people."

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