In conjunction with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings’ 70th anniversary comes a collection of African American cowboy songs titled Black Cowboys. The almost legendary interpreter to such anthems in this collection is none other than founding Carolina Chocolate Drop and historian, scholar, collector, artist, and anthropologist Dom Flemons – a fine picker and songman in his own right. You may have caught him on television in his role as Joe Hill Louis, Bebop Boy, on CMT’s Sun Records or heard the phenomenal Chocolate Drops out of North Carolina before he struck out on his solo career back in 2013.
On this project, Flemons curates and emulates African American frontiersmen’s traditional songs as well as offering his own recreations of that era of songcraft. From the field holler album opener of “Black Women,” Flemons’ intent is apparent. He lives and breathes his art. This is an audible extension of the heart and soul and wonders within, a desire to capture the lifebeat of the original arrangement and melodies of songs that were one of the only forms of entertainment at the time. Flemons dreamt up the idea after chancing upon “The Negro Cowboys” on his own pilgrimage of sorts while driving from North Carolina to his home state of Arizona back in 2016.
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