Saturday, December 05, 2009

Bess Lomax Hawes, Musical Folklorist, Dies : NPR

Bess Lomax Hawes, Musical Folklorist, Dies : NPR

Bess Lomax Hawes, Musical Folklorist, Dies

by David Gura

Bess Lomax Hawes custom vertical
Enlarge Lisa Berg/National Endowment for the Arts

Bess Lomax Hawes sought to preserve folk arts as a musician, a teacher and an administrator.

Bess Lomax Hawes custom vertical
Lisa Berg/National Endowment for the Arts

Bess Lomax Hawes sought to preserve folk arts as a musician, a teacher and an administrator.

December 5, 2009 - Bess Lomax Hawes, a folklorist, musician and teacher, has died. In the 1970s, as the head of the folk arts program at the National Endowment for the Arts, she increased federal funding for traditional music and folk arts across the United States.

Hawes was part of a folk dynasty. Her father, John Lomax, traveled across the American South, collecting traditional music. Her brother, Alan Lomax, made thousands of recordings in the United States and abroad.

Folklore was the Lomax family business, and Hawes followed in their footsteps. But she did not live in their shadow, according to Bill Ivey, who worked with Hawes at the NEA.

"Despite their importance, I think in some ways, Bess may be the most influential of all the Lomaxes," Ivey says.

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