Global Jukebox: A new music website a century in the making

Alan Lomax's life work has come to digital fruition as his collection of rare folk recordings from around the world is launched online
  • Alan Lomax
    Photo: Shirley Collins
    Alan Lomax
April 20, 2017 -- 10:00 am PDT

The New York Times reported on April 18 that one man's early vision for a digital sound library of world folk songs, the Global Jukebox, is now available to the public.

Its creation began in 1910 when John Lomax published Cowboy Songs And Other Frontier Ballads, which opened the world to the folk power of an American song heritage that put the "country" in country music long before the birth of the commercial genre.

Lomax's son, Alan Lomax, continued his father's work, preserving cultural gems from around the world. Alan Lomax died in 2002 having slaved over a vision for what we today call a streaming music service.

Shortly after Alan Lomax's death, he was awarded The Recording Academy's Trustees Award in 2003. His nonprofit, the Association for Cultural Equity announced its commitment to finish Lomax's website in 2012, and has since labored to complete his life's work and fulfill his digital dream. In 2015 ACE's endeavors were supported by a $20,000 grant from the GRAMMY Foundation's Grant Program, which recently merged with the GRAMMY Museum.

The Global Jukebox opens with a choice between interfaces organizing its annotated database of recordings on a world map or on a map of global culture. A veritable a landmark in the history of music preservation, it takes only a few clicks to join in these marvels of indigenous life in song.

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