Texas Gladden: Ballad Legacy

(
Rounder Records
)

Recorded 1941–1959 by Alan Lomax and Moses Asch
Notes by John Cohen

Alan Lomax considered Texas Gladden (1895–1967) of Saltville, Virginia, to be “one of the best American ballad singers ever recorded.” With a repertoire of hundreds of songs learned from family, friends, neighbors, and the radio in Virginia’s rural Smyth County, Gladden recorded for Lomax hours of stories, ballads, lullabies, and recollections during the three occasions on which they met. Texas was not only a unique singer who “had a knack of putting in little grace notes” into her performances — she was a song collector in her own right and cultivated a sensitive artistic temperament that, as she remarked to Lomax, gave her “mental pictures” of every character of whom she sung, be it a servant girl or a Queen of England. This is the first album devoted exclusively to her singing, and includes biographical interviews and four rare performances on which she is accompanied by her brother, Hobart Smith.

“During her life she never achieved the fame that she deserved…. I can think of no better memorial to her than this essential CD…. I have thoroughly enjoyed and been rewarded by the opportunity to listen many times to the singing of Texas Gladden and would thoroughly recommend this album to anyone.” —Musical Traditions