ON THE TRAIL OF NEGRO FOLK-SONGS

A Collection Of Negro Traditional & Folk Songs with Sheet Music Lyrics & Commentaries - online book

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NEGRO FOLK-SONGS
II.
"Oh, —er, —remember them, and write them down so I can keep them," I parried.
She gave me a glance of scorn for my subterfuge, as she grunted, "You's Miss Dottie Scarber, and that meetin' of yores is on the twenty-fust!"
I had overlooked the fact of my press announcements I
But she consented to give me some songs — on condition that I go into the house, as she did not wish any church members to pass by and hear her singing reels.
Since various colleges and universities of Texas were to be repre­sented on the programme for our meeting, I asked the president of Paul Quinn College, a Negro institution in East Waco, if he would not send his choral club to sing some of the genuine folk-songs for us. On the afternoon of their appearance, the last meeting of the associa­tion, the Chapel of Baylor University was filled with people — about twenty-five hundred in all. The colored singers came first on the programme, and were greeted with such a riot of enthusiasm that it seemed as if the remainder of the numbers would be anticlimatic. Again and again the club was called back for encores, and it was with difficulty that I persuaded the audience to hear the rest of us — and only by promising that the singers would come back at intervals during the programme. Yes, folk-lore can have popular appeal.
How of tea since then have I closed my eyes in memory and heard those rich, harmonious voices, with a wild, haunting pathos in their tones, singing,
Keep a-inchm' along, inchm' along,
Jesus will come bye-an'-bye. Keep a-inchin' along like a po' inch worm,
Jesus will come bye-an'-bye!
I hear again the mellow music* of
I want to be ready, I want to be ready,
I want to be ready To walk in Jerusalem just like John!
I can see their bodies swaying rhythmically, their faces alight with passionate feeling.
Since that time I have been definitely collecting Negro folk-songs. I used a number of them in my books, "From a Southern Porch," and "In the Land of Cotton," and found that readers were more in­terested in them than in anything I could write.
Sometimes I have chanced upon songs unexpectedly, as in Louis-