Niles, John Jacob

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Niles, John Jacob

Niles, John Jacob, American folksinger, folkmusic collector, and composer; b. Louisville, Ky, April 28, 1892; d. at his Boot Hill farm, near Lexington, Ky., March 1, 1980. He began collecting and transcribing Appalachian songs when he was 15, and subsequently traveled throughout the Southern Appalachians; studied at the Cincinnati Cons. (1919), and later took courses at the Univ. of Lyons and at the Paris Schola Cantorum. After making his operatic debut in Massenet’s Manon with the Cincinnati Opera (1920), he devoted himself to teaching, performing folk music, collecting, and composing. His own works include such favorites as I Wonder as I Wander, Go ’way from my Window, and Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair. With Douglas Moore, he also brought out Songs My Mother Never Taught Me (1929). Many of his works were included in the collection The Songs of John Jacob Niles (1975). The greater part of his MSS, field notebooks, instruments, etc., are housed in the John Jacob Niles Collection at the Univ. of Kentucky. Among his publications are 7 Kentucky Mountain Songs (1929), 7 Negro Exultations (1929), Songs of the Hill Folk (1934), 10 Christmas Carols (1935), More Songs of the Hill Folk (1936), Ballads and Tragic Legends (1937), The Anglo-American Ballad Study Book (1945), The Anglo-American Carol Study Book (1948), and The Shape-Note Study Book (1950).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis Mclntire

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Niles, John Jacob

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