About the Collection

The Paul Oliver Collection of African American Music and Related Traditions

Paul OliverFrom the tango and the rumba to the beguine and the merengue, from calypso to samba, from reggae to rap, western, and now global, popular song, music and dance have been enriched over the past century by a great variety of musical idioms of the Americas. There are literally dozens of other musical types in the Caribbean, North and South America. Some of these have had widespread international appeal, while others have been more regional, like zydeco in Louisiana or son in Cuba, both of which now have many enthusiasts abroad.

There is one fundamental characteristic that unites these various musical forms; they are all of African-American origin, created by the descendents of the slaves who were brought in their millions to labour in the Americas. Spirituals, or religious songs, were introduced to Europe in the nineteenth century, as were gospel songs at a later date. Concerts and tours and, more permanently, phonographic recordings enhanced enjoyment of Black music. After World War One, Europeans rapidly embraced North American jazz, swing and subsequently be-bop and the various kinds of modern jazz.

More prominently after World War Two was the appeal of the blues, from the ‘down home’ sounds of the south to the electric music of the urban North and of course blues-influenced rock and roll and rock music. Distanced as they were from the sources, Europeans contributed substantially to the study, recording, documentation and appreciation of African-American music. To delight in its qualities and understand the evolution of African-American music is to know much more about our shared inheritance. That is why the European Blues Association was founded. Firmly based on its expanding Archive of African-American Music, its many activities relate to the preservation, presentation and education about such music.

Paul Oliver, 2005

Welcome to the Paul Oliver Collection of African American Music and Related Traditions. The archive also includes items donated from the collections of Robert Tilling, Dave Dalton and Stuart Kidd. A summary of its scope and content is given below. To explore the collection, follow the linked headings or use the drop-down menu above.

Various 78 rpm, 10″ long-play, 45’s, extended play 45’s, 12″ long-play and compact discs on US and English labels.

Blues Magazines:
Publications from Blues Unlimited, Melody Maker, Living Blues, Blues World, Juke Blues, Blues and Rhythm, Storyville, Sing Out and others.

Blues Ephemera Files:
A large number of items that cover a wide range of interests, from record catalogues, sheet music, featured articles, and radio broadcast scripts.

The Collection contains a large quantity of photographs and 35mm slides of African American sites and locations of blues singers, jazz musicians and vocalists, bands and instrumental groups.

Rare Publications :
Rare publications includes Early Songbooks, Catalogs, Publicity Sheets, Posters, Song Sheets and Music Sheets.

Books :
The books within the Collection cover a range of subject matter that includes Slavery and Reconstruction, 20th Century Black History, WPA Writers Project Reports, Urban Contexts, Music and Song Traditions for Comparative Studies, Africa, European Folk Music, African American Sacred and Secular Music, the Blues, Jazz and Entertainment.