We spend a lot of time on this site focusing on the famous names of artists, singers, songwriters, performers, and instrumentalists. But, to be honest, American folk music would hardly even be discussed intellectually if it weren't for the studies and efforts of folks like John Lomax and his son and daughter - Alan and Bess, respectively.
Alan Lomax has been in the news recently, as his remarkable collection of recordings has recently been released online. But, it was John Lomax before him who established the family business of collecting, recording, and preserving the music indigenous to American communities; and Alan's sister Bess Lomax Hawes who established the Folk Arts Program at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Bess was also involved with the Almanac Singers - the radical labor rights singing group which also included young Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, and others. In other words, all three members of this incredibly important folk music family have helped influence and preserve the craft for generations to come.
Learn more with this brief look at the Lomax Family Tree.
image: McMillan 1941