The Mobile StrugglersAt Old Hat Records you can find, besides rare old recordings, excellent short illustrated historical essays, including this one on early recordings of African-American fiddlers.

 

An excerpt:

In his book Twelve Years A Slave, published in 1853, Northup wrote:

“Alas! had it not been for my beloved violin, I scarcely can conceive how I could have endured the long years of bondage. It introduced me to great houses- relieved me of many days’ labor in the field- supplied me with conveniences for my cabin- with pipes and tobacco, and extra pairs of shoes, and oftentimes led me away from the presence of a hard master, to witness scenes of jollity and mirth. It was my companion- the friend of my bosom triumphing loudly when I was joyful, and uttering its soft, melodious consolations when I was sad. It heralded my name around the country- made me friends, who, otherwise would not have noticed me- gave me an honored seat at the yearly feasts, and secured the loudest and heartiest welcome of them all at the Christmas dance.” 

 

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