Bessie Jones - So Glad I'm Here : Songs and Games from the Georgia Sea Islands

“From the end of the Civil War until the ’30s, these islands enjoyed a period of isolation from mainland life. During these years, a further cultural blend took place between the descendents of two sets of former slaves: the Afro-Americans and a huge group of former slaves from the Bahamas who traveled there following the abolishment of slavery in the British empire.

The Sea Islanders, having suffered captivity, enjoyed the release of their bonds and created a music of endurance and freedom utilizing the unique dialect of the islands. There was a strong influence of the Bahamas in this music. And although all American folk music has been influenced by various types of African music, the African content of the Georgia Sea Islands is of a much purer variety; the result is a style of music unlike any other in America or the world.

Jones became a shining representative of this musical heritage, singing in a Bahamian accent accompanied by wild, outrageous African handclap rhythms. In the ’60s, she helped form the Georgia Sea Island Singers, recording both with them and as a soloist. The material in both cases includes both songs and a selection of musical games for children that she recalled from her past. These performances brought audiences face to face with a distinct culture from another century. Jones published a book entitled Step It Down, which is a collection of such children’s games as well as various stories from her life. Her performances, recordings, and educational programs earned many awards, including a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Like all great folk artists, her voice has continued ringing on since her death. She perhaps may not have had much in common with the rap and techno music of the ’90s, but the techno recording artist Moby chose to sample her voice on his recordings.” (Eugene Chadbourne, All Music)

So, my lovely and discerning girlfriend Alley picked up this fantastic LP a couple of weeks ago, during our first visit to the newly opened Little Axe Records here in Portland. Great shop. These tracks were all recorded live on July 30 # 31 at the St Simons Island Church of God in Christ, in GA, by Bruce Kaplan & Bill Nowlin. 320 Vinyl rip by yours truly. FYI, there are many streams of Bessie Jones with Alan Lomax currently available via the Lomax archive at the Association for Cultural Equity. Dig it.

Release Information
Year: 1975.
Country: USA.
Label: Rounder.
Side A
1. So Glad I'm Here
2. Johanna
3. Yonder Comes Day
4. Kindlin' Wood
5. Shoo Turkey
6. Turn My Body Round
7. Riley

Side Two
1. Titanic
2. Amazing Grace
3. You Better Mind
4. Oh Death
5. Daniel in the Lion's Den
6. May Be the Last Time, I Don't Know
Comments (9)

9 Responses

  1. Holly says:

    Thank you so much for posting this beautiful lp, Nick! Just went & put her book on my want list, thanks for the Powell’s link (threw in Gabrielle Hamilton’s ‘Blood, Bones & Butter” as well) 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    thanks for sharing! glad youre back at it! a question youre probably tired of: any word from owl? love you guys and all you do!

  3. Howl says:

    Thank you!!!
    Dude, i love you and your blog. You don’t have a clue of how much such blogs makes me happy. Long life Ghost-Capital. And how i wish Holy Warbles were alive. 🙁

    Once again, Thank you, thank you!!!

  4. French Bob says:

    Thanks a lot for this great LP , and many others that you have posted.

    About Bessie Jones & The Georgia Sea Islands Singers, don’t forget to check the newly released ”Join The Band’’, the 1959/1960 Alan Lomax’s recordings on Mississippi/Change Records.

    Please keep on doin’ your wonderful blog.

  5. Riz says:

    Hallelujah Nick. This is sublime.

  6. This is great. I had never heard of Sea Island before. Not really related at all, aside from being an island, but I found a great record from Bermuda I think you’d enjoy called “Everybody Loves Bermuda”

  7. Tony says:

    Great vinyl post. Thank you.

    The spirit of this music reminds me of a show my kids watched many years ago, about a family who lived on an island off the coast of South Carolina…

  8. Anonymous says:

    Any chance you could repost this? I’ve been looking everywhere for it, but it seems long out of print.

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