“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.