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Long Time Ago - Genuine African-American Tune

Long Time Ago - Genuine African-American Tune African American History American History Social Studies Tragedies and Triumphs Nineteenth Century Life

Thomas Rice, the individual who created the "Jim Crow" character, also performed African-American music.  This sheet music is an example.

About it, the Library of Congress tell us:

"Long Time Ago," also known as "Shinbone Alley," is one of the few pieces of published music dating from before the Civil War that is believed to be a genuine African American tune. The song, published in 1833, comes to us filtered through a performance by a white artist, Thomas ("Daddy") Rice. It was offered for sale not as an example of African American music but as a part of Rice's repertory. It is, in fact, the standard picture of Rice in his blackface costume that stands at the head of the music.

"Long Time Ago" was republished with a different, sentimental text in 1939 as "Near the Lake Where Drooped the Willow." In this form, in a harmonization done by Aaron Copland in his Old American Songs of 1950, it is still widely sung.


Media Credits

Image online, courtesy the U.S. Library of Congress.

 

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