Archive Samples used in Beyoncé’s “Freedom”

May 4, 2016

We are pleased that Beyoncé and her production team have found in the field recordings of John and Alan Lomax two samples that have historical as well as contemporary relevance to their concept of Freedom. It heartens us knowing that so many musicians, filmmakers and other artists find creative inspiration in John and Alan Lomax’s recordings, photos, interviews, and films. We stream them on our website gratis at our Online Archive.

The “Freedom” samples represent vernacular traditions the Lomaxes were devoted to documenting: folk spirituals and sacred songs of Southern black churches; and the work songs and field hollers of black prisoners. Both, in Alan Lomax’s words, “testified to the love of truth and beauty which is a universal human trait.” They are taken from two Alan Lomax field recordings: A segment of a 1959 worship service led by Reverend R. C. Crenshaw at Memphis’ Great Harvest Missionary Baptist Church, and “Stewball,” a 1948 work song led by Benny Will Richardson (known as “22” at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, the notorious Parchman Farm). (

Since its inception in 1983, the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE), founded by Alan Lomax, has pursued research, publication, preservation, dissemination, repatriation and the development of teaching and feedback resources. We reach out to universities, local libraries and archives, community-based groups, museums, arts organizations, and teachers nationally and internationally to make Lomax Collection materials available in the regions and localities from which the traditions and the artists came. For more information please visit our website at

Anna Lomax Wood
President, Association for Cultural Equity