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America Over the Water [Paperback]

Shirley Collins
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: SAF Publishing Ltd; New edition edition (5 Oct 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0946719918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0946719914
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 15 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,045,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A fascinating musicological documentary. Best of all, a spine-tingling account of the first-ever recordings of Mississippi Fred McDowell.
MOJO **** -- Mojo Magazine

An Absolute gem. -- Uncut Magazine

Masterpieces are seldom so readable. A contender for folk book of the year. -- Record Collector --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


In 1959, Shirley Collins, a nineteen-year-old folk singer from Hastings set out on an extraordinary journey across the deep American South with Alan Lomax, the great American folklorist. "America Over the Water" blends the personal story of Shirley's relationship with Lomax, with a unique first hand account of America on the brink of the civil rights era. Going to the heart of the blues, spending time with the men on road gangs, in State Penitentiaries and homes and music venues, "America Over the Water" is a major account of a remarkable place at a remarkable time.

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Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Telling It How It Was 14 May 2004
Shirley Collins,the much loved,honey voiced Sussex singer,tells the story of her journey,along with the song collector Alan Lomax,collecting folk song and music in the Southern States of America (1959-60).
The impetus for the book came from comments made by Lomax in one of his books(The Land Where Blues Began)that made light of her importance to the project-"Shirley Collins the lovely English folksinger was along for the trip"
This account,whilst putting the record straight about her contribution, provides a fascinating read for anyone with the slightest interest in the Blues,life and social conditions in the still-segregated Southern States or the great lady herself.
Her account is enhanced with lovely photographs from the trip,each day's recordings and a full discography.Highly recommended.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful discovery 5 Nov 2004
I'd never heard of Shirley Collins before hearing her interviewed about this book on the radio - what a fabulous, fabulous discovery. I wish I'd known of her before. This book lives and breathes the tensions of the American South and is rich with its melodies and voices. Shirley Collins comes across as immensely likeable and lovely person and as fantastic as the music she writes about is, the thing that makes this glow is the personal story of her relationship with Alan Lomax.
Billy Bragg describes Shirley Collins as one of Britain's greatest cultural treasures and that she clearly is in spades, but America Over The Water brings us the woman as well as the legend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for music enthusiasts 9 Mar 2011
Shirley Collins and her sister Dolly provided a living link with the almost moribund English Folk Music as sung & played on the South Coast and the bonus of her adventures with Alan Lomax, recording Mississippi Fred McDowell and other Blues artists, Shape-Note choirs and Old-Timey singers makes this book essential reading for anyone interested in roots music. Ms. Collins slightly buttoned-up style evokes the pre-swinging-sixties atmosphere and helps us really understand the excitment and fears of an unsophisticated girl from the sticks projected into alien cultures. Fascinating and occasionally scary!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a travel companion.. 25 Aug 2012
..... I too heard the Woman's Hour conversation with Shirley Collins , and subsequently requested the book for a fiftieth birthday gift....thankfully received !......... a wonderful , informative description of the journey .... setting straight the dismissive comment from Alan Lomax about Shirley's contribution to the project...(Hell hath no fury like an American male spurned , whose ego outstripped his reputation ! ..... a deserved , immense reputation though it is !.. ) ..... a brilliant read !
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read 17 Feb 2009
This is a fascinating read that tells of a time when the world was far slower and things happened at a pace when they could be more easily enjoyed. If you're interested in music and want to understand more about its cultural significance then don't hesitate to buy it.
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