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Almeda Riddle's Repertory

Background and Commentary by Daniel W. Patterson

The tornado took her collection of ballets, but her memory was strong. Predictably, her song repertory was quite large. In interviews she gave varying estimates of the number she knew, ranging from two- to six-hundred songs. At least 162 different songs from her repertory are preserved in various published sound recordings or books or are included or mentioned in interviews. You can listen to eighty-five performances by her of fifty-nine different songs currently streamed on-line from the John Quincy Wolf Collection in the Lyon College Library. A Singer and Her Songs includes text and tune transcriptions of fifty of her songs and the texts or names of fifty-four more. A second volume of songs Abrahams edited from the interviews failed to gain publication. Almeda must have known many additional popular songs and pieces from the gospel tune books. She said that she had learned ninety percent of her repertory by the time she was eighteen, but she also tells of songs she learned later from her children when they were in their teens.       

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