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Obituary–Bess Lomax Hawes (1921 – 2009)

January 21st, 2010 · 1 Comment

Bess Lomax Hawes, a musician, folklorist and prominent anthropologist at CalState Northridge passed away in November 2009. She was 88.

Steeped in folk music from birth, she was the youngest child of John A. Lomax and Bess Bauman Brown. Born Jan. 21, 1921, in Austin, Texas, she was home-schooled by her mother, who also taught her to play piano. Her father and her brother, Alan Lomax, collected seminal field recordings of traditional songs that had been sung by cowboys, prisoners and slaves. After her mother died in 1931, the family moved to Washington, D.C., and Hawes assisted her father’s pioneering research compiling the folk song archive at the Library of Congress.

In 1952 Bess and her husband, an artist, moved to California and settled with their children in Topanga Canyon, immersing themselves in the bohemian community anchored by actor Will Geer. Besides performing in coffeehouses and at music festivals, Hawes taught guitar, banjo, mandolin and folk singing through UCLA Extension courses, at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program and, starting in 1963, at San Fernando Valley State College. Bess taught at Idyllwild Arts from 1958 through the mid 1960s.

Hawes photo

Tags: Ethnomusicologists · Ethnomusicology · Faculty · Music History · Music history · Musicologists · Musicology · Musicology · Performance · Performance · World Music · World music

1 response so far ↓

  • SirGuitarith // Apr 7, 2011 at 7:52 am

    People like Bess must be remembered. She was a big part of folk music and will be missed. However, she definitely left her mark on the music world.