The fascinating story of Nancy Dupree

The Vinyl Factory blog listed a BBC Essential Mix by the Australian group The Avalanches. Their mix included a couple of pieces by Frank Zappa and Wild Man Fischer so I had a (brief) listen. One of the tracks was a strange piano and children singing piece about James Brown credited to Nancy Dupree…

Intrigued one turned to the Interwebs to find out more….

Nancy Dupree
Nancy Dupree

Nancy Dupree was a music teacher in New York in the 1960s. Seeing that the children had no interest in the official bland and boring curriculum she encouraged them to start writing their own songs related to their lives while introducing them to the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone et.al…

She even persuaded the likes of B B King, Muhammad Ali and Roland Kirk to visit the school and talk to the children.

They produced enough songs to record a whole album which they called Ghetto Reality. Encountering Moses Asch she badgered him into releasing the album on his Folkways Records label.

She was eventually sacked from the teaching job, ostensibly for refusing to wear the required high heels, and was alarmed to see the school call the police to remove the children protesting about her departure.

She subsequently worked in various jobs, made recordings of her poetry, associated with the Black Panthers, wrote a play and died of leukaemia at the age of 44.

More…

Snore and Guzzle (full story)

The Guardian

The recordings are available from:

Folkways

Apple Music

Spotify

Z is for Frank Zappa

Who does not love tying divergent strands together to finish a project as a unified whole? I know I do…

A recent Kickstarter project raised over a million dollars to help finance a documentary about Frank Zappa and preserve his archive of works (known as The Vault).

Zappa died in 1993 but remains ever present (he has been featured in several A to Z posts here) as he has throughout my life since I was thirteen when he made quite an impression

“Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you’ve got any guts. Some of you like Pep rallies and plastic robots who tell you what to read.”

One may imagine that had he lived to see the growth of the web he would be all over it. Long before iTunes and MP3s were imaginable he proposed a system where music would be played down a phone line and the recipient would record the music on to tape. Such was his growing resentment towards record companies and their control over the production and distribution of music. And it always returned to the music…

“Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music.
Music is THE BEST.”

From Cage and Varèse to Tuvan throat singers to Reggae to Doo Wop he was fascinated by it all.

He was one of the first to own a Synclavier but was frustrated by its limitations – things that today one can achieve on even a modest laptop computer.

But why would you believe anything I say…

V is for Vinyl

Who does not love reminiscing about old gramophone records? I know I do and having once owned several thousand records I can understand the appeal of vinyl. But there is some weird stuff going on with the current so called vinyl revival. Firstly it hardly registers as a revival – more a slight blip…

And then there is the strange case of people buying vinyl records although they do not own any means to actually play them. Conversely many years ago (early to mid 1970’s) I purchased a secondhand Garrard 301 from someone locally and he had an impressively large and expensive HiFi system but only owned three records.

garrard301

Where as once one could spend a lot of time and money finding the obscure records of choice today we can access most music for very little money and hardly any effort. As wonderful as such streaming services are it can be a little disconcerting to have Apple Music stream a pristine digital version of an old record when you are anticipating the old snap crackle and pop dubbed from vinyl one in your library.