Anna Lomax Wood

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Anna Lomax Wood (born November 20, 1944) is an anthropologist and public folklorist. She is the President of the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE), established in 1985 by her father, legendary musicologist Alan Lomax. In 1996, when Alan Lomax was disabled by a stroke, Wood took responsibility for overseeing his archive, housed at Hunter College, and implementing his unfinished projects, most notably the production, which she undertook in 1997 with Jeffry Greenberg, of the Alan Lomax Collection on Rounder Records a series of more than 100 CD's in ten series, of music recorded by Alan Lomax in the deep South, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, the British Isles, Ireland, Spain and Italy.[1] Upon her father's death in 2002, ACE worked with the Library of Congress to preserve, restore, digitize, and transfer Alan Lomax's original recordings, photographs, and videos to the Library's American Folklife Center,[2] In 2005, Wood and Mr. Greenberg produced an 8-CD box set issued on Rounder: Jelly Roll Morton: The Complete Library of Congress Recordings by Alan Lomax.[3] In 2009, she produced the 10-CD, Alan Lomax in Haiti, issued by Harte Records.[4]

Education and personal life[edit]

Anna Lomax Wood has a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University, with a concentration on Mediterranean religion and disaster relief. From 1977 until his death in 1992 she was married to Bill Chairetakis, a physicist from Crete, with whom she had a son, Odysseus. In 2003 she married Edmund R. Wood, a businessman.


Wood was born Anne Lyttleton Lomax, in New York City on November 20, 1944,[5] and grew up immersed in the folk music scene, both in New York City and abroad. While still in her teens she assisted her father's recording in the Caribbean. Later she helped him in his Cantometric and other research. While in college, she also worked as an assistant film editor on Lionel Rogosin's film Black Roots (1971) and on four films by independent filmmaker Les Blank. As a folklorist, Wood has researched the folkways of Italian, Greek, and Spanish immigrant communities in the United States. In the wake of the 1980 Irpinia earthquake, she did research on disaster recovery and reconstruction; the local impact of NGO disaster aid; and the impact of rural industrialization programs. She also has worked in children's mental health planning for the Children's Board of Hillsborough County, Florida, and designed mental health ethnographies for the Florida Mental Health Institute of the University of South Florida, where she also taught.

Folklore activism[edit]

In 1975, Wood (then known as Anna Chairetakis) began to work as a public folklore activist with first- and second-generation Italian-Americans in the United States. Along with Carla Bianco[6] and Roberto Leydi, Wood was one of the first researchers to explore the folk repertoires of these communities. She also produced several short films, including, L'Italia Vive Anche in America (Italy Also Lives in America), (New York: RAI-TV, 1975) and In the Footsteps of Columbus (NBC-TV, 1976), nominated for an Emmy Award.

In 1979, Wood produced and annotated two LP albums of Calabrian, Sicilian, and other regional Italian music recorded in New York State's Niagara region, New Jersey, and Rhode Island: In Mezz'una Strada Trovai una Pianta di Rosa. Italian Folk Music Collected in New York and New Jersey, Vol. 1: The Trentino, Molise, Campania (Avellino and Salerno), Basilicata (Matera) and Sicily, plus "Trallalero" from Liguria and Calabria Bella Dove T'hai Lasciate? Italian Folk Music Collected in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island, Vol. 2: Calabria, both issued on the Global Village label.[7] Music from the recordings was used in the (1984) Academy Award-winning documentary, The Stone Carvers. Music from a subsequent (1986) collection of four albums: La Baronessa di Carinini, Chesta e' la vuci ca Canuscite and Cantate con noi, also issued by Global Village, was excerpted for use in the soundtrack of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Part III (1990).

While doing research in the Campania region of Italy, Wood began to work with Paulo Apolito, a cultural anthropologist at the University of Salerno[8] and the late folklorist Giovanni Cioffarelli,[9] arranging to bring over outstanding Italian traditional performers to tour in America under the auspices of the Ethnic Folk Arts Center of New York (now renamed the Center for Traditional Music and Dance) and also to arrange with the Italian government to get funding to compensate the performers for time lost from work. These efforts resulted in a series of three consecutive annual tours of joint performances by Italian-American and South Italian traditional singers produced by the Ethnic Folk Arts Center in 1983, '84, and '85. Concerts were held in New York City and Long Island area; as well as in Lewiston, Binghamton, and Troy, New York; in Newark, New Jersey; in Middleton, Connecticut; in Memphis, Tennessee; and in Little Rock, Arkansas. Performers included artists from Campania, Calabria, Sicily, and Sardinia, singing and playing traditional instruments such as the chitarra battente, the zampogna (bagpipe) and ciaramella (an oboe-like wind instrument) that were little-known among second generation Italian Americans in this country, despite the fact that Italian-American songs had long been available on commercial recordings.

During the 1980s Wood continued to present Italian-American artists at Ethnic Folk Arts Center events, at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and elsewhere, extending her research to the Greek-American community. Two immigrant families of traditional musicians that she worked with received NEA National Heritage Fellowship Awards: Giuseppe and Raffaela DeFranco from Belleville, New Jersey, who perform with the group, Calabria Bella, in 1990[10] and Greek-American bagpipe player, Nikitas Tsimouris, of Tarpon Springs, Florida, in 1991.[11]

Association for Cultural Equity[edit]

On Alan Lomax's death in 2002, Wood oversaw the cataloging, digitization, and preservation of all Alan Lomax's recordings, manuscripts, correspondence, films, photos, and research made after 1942 for transference to the Library of Congress. Under her direction, ACE collaborates actively with the Library of Congress in keeping Alan's legacy alive.[12]

In 2005, Rounder issued the 8-CD box-set, Jelly Roll Morton: The Complete Library of Congress Recordings, which included a reissue of Alan Lomax's 1952, book, Mr. Jelly Roll. The set received two Grammy awards: for Best Historical Album (to Anna Lomax Wood and Jeff Greenberg, Executive Producers, and Steve Rosenthal, Sound Engineer) and for Best Album Notes to John Szwed. In 2009, Harte Records issued Alan Lomax in Haiti, a 10-CD box set of Alan Lomax's historic 1936–37 recordings from a trip undertaken for the Library of Congress, re-mastered and restored from the original aluminum discs.[13] The set included original 1937 photographs and film footage by Elizabeth Harold Lomax on disc; liner notes by ethnomusicologist Gage Averill; and a book of selections from Alan Lomax's Haitian diary, correspondence, and field notes, edited by Ellen Harold.[14] In 2011, it garnered two Grammy nominations: for Best Historical Box Set and Best Album Notes.

Wood also worked with the Haitian government and the Green Foundation to repatriate the recordings that Alan Lomax made in the 1930s and to transfer a complete set of high grade digital copies of the music and films to the National Archives of Haiti, plus all the documentation and photos. In an interview filmed in Haiti on PBS's program, Need to Know, Wood said, "My hope is that this music will be incorporated into school curriculums and that it will be studied respectfully, as classical music is now studied".[15] Repatriation was an essential aspect Alan Lomax's vision of cultural equity; and ACE has initiated similar repatriation projects have been undertaken in St. Lucia, Granada, and Spain, and recently (on February 3, 2012) in Como, Mississippi.[16] On January 30, 2012, The New York Times reported that the Association for Cultural Equity was making publicly available Alan Lomax's entire archive of post-1942 recordings, films, and photos for streaming on the World Wide Web.[17]

Selected publications[edit]

  • “Musical Practice and Memory on the Edge of Two Worlds: Kalymnian Tsambóuna and Song Repertoire in the Family of Nikitas Tsimouris” in The Florida Folklife Reader. Tina Bucuvalas, Editor. University of Mississippi Press, 2011.
  • “Giuseppe De Franco (1933–2010): A Remembrance of an Immigrant Folk Musician” in The Italian American Review 1 (2): 2011.
  • “Doppio Solitario”, in Alan Lomax. L’Anno Piu Felice della Mia Vita. Plastino, Goffredo, Editor. Saggiatore, 2008.
  • “Tears of Blood: The Calabrian Villanella and Immigrant Epiphanies” in Studies in Italian American Folklore. Del Giudice, Luisa, Editor. Utah State University Press, 1993.
  • "Lacrime di sangue: La villanella calabrese in America," in Calabria dei paesi. Pitto, Cesare, Editor. 1990.
  • Malidittu la lingua/Damned Language, the Poetry of Vincenzo Ancona, with Joseph Sciorra. 2010, 1991.
  • "L'Esistenza in America della musica folkloristica del sud d'Italia: I suoi legami con la madrepatria", La Critica sociologica 80 (Inverno 1986-87).
  • "Voluntary Aid and Private Voluntary Assistance", in Reconstruction and Socio-cultural System: A Long-range Study of Reconstruction Processes Following the November 23, 1980 Earthquake in Southern Italy. Report No. 1 to the National Science Foundation, by Rocco Caporale, Ino Rossi, and Anna L. Chairetakis. Washington, D.C.


References and web resources[edit]


  1. ^ "Today, Mr. Lomax is still recovering in Tarpon Springs, Fla., from two strokes he had in 1995, and he was not available to discuss the Lomax Collection. 'He's very annoyed that he can't work much on the project,' says his daughter, Anna L. Chairetakis, one of the collection's producers. 'But he listens to the music, and he makes some selections. See also Dana Andrew Jennings, "Spanning the Globe: 60 Years With Lomax", New York Times, April 13, 1997
  2. ^

    "The folklorist Alan Lomax's collection, which had been housed at Hunter College, has been acquired by the Library of Congress, thanks to a contribution from an anonymous donor, according to an announcement to be made today by James Billington, the Librarian of Congress. Lomax's collection contains more than 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of motion-picture film, 2,450 videotapes, 2,000 books and journals, hundreds of photographs and negatives, and several databases for portions of the archive, as well as more than 120 linear feet of manuscript materials, including correspondence, field notes, research files, program scripts, indexes and book and article manuscripts. It will become part of the library's American Folklife Center. Lomax, the first to record Woody Guthrie, Muddy Waters and Leadbelly, was in charge of the library's Archive of American Folk Song until 1942, when he left to pursue his musical anthropology in the United States and abroad. His collection had been in several large rooms at Hunter College, overseen by the Association for Cultural Equity, which he founded in 1985 to research, preserve and disseminate world folk performances. Now directed by his daughter, Anna Lomax Wood, the association plans to make his audio and video recordings available to libraries,"Elizabeth Olson, "Folk Music:: The Alan Lomax Collection", New York Times, March 24, 2004.

  3. ^ See Matt Barton, "Jelly Roll Wins at Grammys: Lomax Recordings of Groundbreaking Jazzman Win Honors", Library of Congress Information Bulletin, Feb. 2006, Vol. 65.
  4. ^ See: Will Friedwald, "Haiti's Hidden Treasures", Wall Street Journal Online, February 4, 2010 and Marsha Lederman, "Alan Lomax in Haiti: Humongous riches from the poorest country", Toronto Globe and Mail, Dec. 14, 2010.
  5. ^ John Szwed, Alan Lomax, the Man Who Recorded the World (New York: Penguin, 2011), p. 209.
  6. ^ Carla Bianco is the author of the highly regarded ethnography, The Two Rosetos (University of Indiana, 1974).
  7. ^ They were reviewed by Ralf Carriuolo, who called them "exemplary": see Ethnomusicology: 27: 3 [Sep., 1983]: 570-72.
  8. ^ Paolo Apolito's many books include Lettere al Mago (Liguori, 1980); Apparitions of the Madonna at Oliveto Citra: Local Visions and Cosmic Drama (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998); and The Internet and the Madonna. Antony Shugaar, translator (University of Chicago Press, 2005).
  9. ^ See Anna Lomax Wood, "Remembering Giovanni Coffarelli: High Priest of Neapolitan Music" on the website of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance.
  10. ^ Giuseppe and Raffaela DeFranco: 1990 Lifetime Honors National Heritage Fellowship Recipients. Archived March 3, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ "Nikitas Tsimouris: 1991 Lifetime Honors National Heritage Fellowship Recipient". Archived from the original on 2012-05-15. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
  12. ^ See the "Alan Lomax Collection" website at the Research Center of the American Folklife Collection at the Library of Congress.
  13. ^ Alan Lomax in Haiti was made with major funding and support from Kimberley Green and the Green Foundation, see "This is Haiti"[permanent dead link] a website listing the various Haitian Relief organizations the Green Foundation has partnered with.
  14. ^ The original Haitian correspondence papers from Lomax's trip are housed in the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. See "Preserving Haitian Culture" (March 2010) on the Wise Guide to the Library of Congress Collections website.
  15. ^ Quoted in an interview in the video Anthony Lappé and Laura van Straaten, producers, Haiti’s lost music Need to Know PBS, August 30, 2010.
  16. ^ Olga Wilhelmine, "Home to Como", Mississippi Legends, March 20, 2012. Archived July 19, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ Larry Rohter, "Folklorist’s Global Jukebox Goes Digital", New York Times, January 30, 2012