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

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days there was much more music during work hours. Judge Diggs of Lynchburg, Virginia, told me that in his town there used to be a large number of independent tobacco factories, at which the Negro workers sang a great deal; but these smaller plants have been taken over by a big combine, and machinery has driven out song.
Early Busby says that the night shifts of employees at his father's brickyard in East Texas sang all night long at their task.
On the big plantations of the South, certain work, as corn-shuck­ing, would be done by large bands of Negroes. Dr. John A. Wyeth told me of such occasions and the songs they called forth. On the old plantations there were square rail-pens for corn. The owner would have thousands of bushels of corn put on and then invite the Negroes on neighboring plantations to come in for an "infare." On top of the huge mound of corn the Negro leader of song would perch, while the others would be grouped all round the pyramid of yellow ears. As the workers husked, the leader would give out a line of song, which they would take up as a refrain.
Oh, rock me gently, Julie!
The refrain would come in all round, —0-0-0-0-0, harmony, the cadence pitched to high feeling.
a low swell of
I'm gwine away to leave you,
O-o-o-o-o! I'm gwine away to the grassy islands,
O-o-o-o-o I
This last would be in a more lively tune.
The Negroes had unusual liberties on corn-shucking nights, and the event was one of hilarity and revelry.
Again the leader would sing, and the others follow, with some couplet such as this:
A little streak o} lean, an' a little streak o' fat, Ole Massa grumble ef yo' eat much o' dat!

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III