Coal Digging Blues: Songs of West Virginia Miners, compiled by Mark Allan Jackson, is the eighth addition to the WVU Press Sound Archive series. Drawing upon gospels, blues, and country musical influences, the musicians on this compilation explicate the hardships and hopes of Great Depression-era West Virginia coal miners. The songs and stories on the CD were collected by folklorist George Korson when he traveled to mining communities in northern and eastern West Virginia in the 1940s. Some of the songs from Korson's visit were released by the Library of Congress under the title Songs and Ballads of the Bituminous Miners, but the majority of them are being released to the public for the first time here on Coal Digging Blues. Many of the songs are performed by African-American miners, a marginalized group in the history of mining who bring to the collection their rich musical heritage and sui generis sound. A booklet of detailed notes on the performers, their songs, and the history of coal-camp songs in West Virginia, as well as contemporary photographs, is included with the CD.
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