Smithsonian: Songster Dom Flemons Brings Back the Melodies of the Black Cowboy The Latest from Folkways, a Label Marking 70 Years, revives music traditions from the African-American ranch crews of the West

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Whitewashed from cowboy movies and lore, the African-American contribution to the shaping of the American West was more significant than previously considered, down to tunes they sang, which were as familiar as “Home on the Range.”

In researching songs that would become his album Dom Flemons presents Black Cowboys for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the artist learned that musicologist John Lomax recorded the most familiar version of “Home on the Range” from a black cook in San Antonio.

“He transcribes the fellow’s particular way of singing the song and it became the well-known western anthem that we know today,” says Flemons.

It was the same with a familiar cattle driving song about a horse, “Goodbye Old Paint.”
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