Cecil Sharp

The Englishman Cecil Sharp was a great collector of English and American folk songs.

Photo: Cecil Sharp, from David Sutcliffe's website about Rev. Charles Marson, a friend of Cecil Sharp

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About

Born in London, Cecil Sharp studied in England and worked in Australia and England before devoting his life to documenting and collecting English and Anglo-American folk songs. He began this pursuit in 1899, inspired by traditional dances that he saw on Boxing Day.

His first publication, Folk Songs From Somerset, consisted of five volumes, issued between 1904 and 1909.

Cecil Sharp’s visits to America, his first being 1916-1918, were significant in that they inspired American scholars and musicians to document the traditional folk songs and arts (such as dancing) in American society. Sharp’s two-volume publication English Folk Songs from Southern Appalachians is one of many books he published about American folk songs between 1917 and 1923. Song included in his publications are “Black is the Color of my True Love’s Hair” (though the famous version of the song uses the traditional lyrics of the song, but a tune of John Jacob Niles). Sharp’s work of preserving traditional Anglo-American song and dance is continued in the USA by the Country Dance and Song Society.

–Christie Finn

Source: Frank Howes’ article in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians

Related Information

Recordings

John Langstaff Sings: Archival Folk Song

(Howard Brockway, John Powell and Cecil Sharp)

2004

Books

English Folk Songs From the Southern Appalachians

By Cecil Sharp

Folk Songs of English Origin Collected in the Appalachian Mountains

By Cecil Sharp

Songs

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