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'Lost Delta Found:' A Chronicle of Mississippi Music

In the summer of 1941, a relatively unknown musicologist from Fisk University in Nashville accompanied the legendary folklorist Alan Lomax on a research trip to the American South.

John Work, an African American trained in classical music, was interested in the musical traditions of rural life. Work and Lomax headed to Coahoma County in the Mississippi Delta -- where they documented the music heard in churches, blues joints and cotton fields.

Most of the fieldwork there was conducted by Lomax. But it was Work who analyzed the music itself through recordings.

Lomax went on to publish his memoir on the experience; the book helped to elevate his reputation as a musical historian. Work's writings on the same subject were unnoticed by the public.

Michele Norris talks to Bruce Nemerov, one of the editors of the Lost Delta Found, a new book that chronicles the research of Work and other academics from Fisk University in the 1940s.

In the following excerpt from Lost Delta Found, Fisk sociologist Lewis W. Jones writes about the pioneers of Coahoma County in the Mississippi Delta:

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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