Songs from the Vault: 78-rpm Records and Field Recordings
"Will the Circle Be Unbroken," by the Silver Leaf Quartette of Norfolk
It's always exciting to find a fresh take on a well-worn song. Most of us know "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" from the Carter Family's 1935 recording or the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's groundbreaking album. Here we hear the song as sung by one of the finest Black quartets of the pre-war era. Norfolk was a hotbed of quartet singing, and most collectors are familiar with the Norfolk Jubilee/Jazz Quartette and the Golden Gate Quartet. The Silver Leafs are one of my favorites. They recorded about 25-odd sides for the Okeh label between 1928 and 1931. They had an enormous hit with "Sleep on Mother" backed by "Our Father" in 1928. This is a reissue of a March 1930 recording by the American Record Corporation on its Melotone budget label.
- silver leaf qt will the circle-edit00:00
The Silver Leaf Quartette of Norfolk from Kip Lornell, Virginia's Blues, Country, & Gospel Records, 1902-1943. .
"Amazing Grace" by the Emmanuel Singers
I made this recording of "Amazing Grace" at the Jettie Baker Center in Clintwood, Dickenson County, Virginia.I was asked to do a talk on the sacred music traditions of Virginia, and, a few days before the show, the host called me. and asked, "Could a few local groups perform before the talk"? I was excited at the prospect, especially when I heard that one of the groups was an Old Regular Baptist congregation.The Emmanuel Singers deliver a powerful performance and I also talked theology with Elder Carvel Edwards. I also stayed at the Ralph Stanley Museum--an appropriate prelude to the concert.
Here are songs from my collection. My collecting focuses on American old-time string bands and fiddling, vernacular sacred music (especially sacred quartets), blues, and some traditional ethnic material, mostly Hawaiian, French-Canadian, and Irish. All of these recordings are a musical message from the past in aural form. Some are field recordings I've made; others are from "junking" trips to find unusual, early sound recordings.