Max Hunter Biography Project
As many of you are aware, I am currently doing research on the life of Ozark folk song collector Max Hunter, of Springfield, Missouri. Mr. Hunter died in 1999 but several universities in Missouri, as well as the Springfield-Greene County Library and the Library of Congress, house his collections. I have started work on Mr. Hunter's biography, and if all goes well, I will publish through a university press. This is a long and expensive process since no funds will be forthcoming until down the road when several hundred copies are sold.
For those of you who don't know me, allow me to introduce myself: I am both a musical performer and a writer, with a particular interest in traditional old time music. Over the years I have written features and profiles for a number of publications including American Craft, Orion and Country Journal. I'm a frequent contributor to Fiddler Magazine and recently had a piece in the The Old Time Herald.
Max Hunter was among the last great collectors of folk song in the Ozarks. Mr. Hunter was unique among folklorists because he arrived at song collecting as a travelling salesman rather than as an academic. His first purposeful song hunting expedition took place in 1956, and he went to amazing lengths to find an "old song", all of which will be discussed in my biography. He was a deeply gifted individual and greatly loved by all who knew him.
I took my first research trip to Missouri in July. While I came home with a lot more material, I have a great deal of work ahead of me. This winter I plan to make a second trip to Mr. Hunter's hometown of Springfield, MO. Virtually everyone I've spoken with both inside and outside of Missouri agrees that Mr. Hunter deserves a biography. Now I just need the funds to complete this project. I would greatly appreciate any contributions that will help me cover research and travel expenses.
Click here for Max Hunter's amazing song collection.
What a journey this is! I confess that it is now fall and the manuscript is still in my hands. I was just about to start work on revision of the front and back matter when I found what I'd been hoping for all along: many hours of interviews that Hunter conducted with certain of his informants, spread across at least a decade. Oy is all I can say. While not all of the material is relevant to my narrative [thankfully] it will greatly enrich it while shedding light on some of the darker corners of Hunter's ancestral history and on the lives of those who shared their songs.
Sarah Jane (still in the trenches)
I wanted to update you on the status of the Hunter Biography. Although I have been QUIET as of late, I have not been idle. I am in the last stages of revising the manuscript in response to its first editorial reading and I am happy to say that it is in much better shape (chronologically speaking) than before! Whenever I lose my way I look at McPhee's Draft No. 4 book and this sets me straight:) The manuscript will bounce back to Missouri this fall, and we will proceed from there.
Back in April, with the help of illustrator Martha Moseley and her talented Delaware friends, I had the joy of bringing Hunter's story to life through a Crankie narrative presentation at Berklee's ABLE Conference. Enjoy the pictures!
1) Our fundraiser CD, "On the Trail of Max Hunter:To the Ozarks and Back Again" is complete, and will be going out to several donors shortly.
2) Although it is still in the editing stage, my paper on Max Hunter has just been accepted to the Missouri Historical Review!
3) My duo, High Strung Strummers, just gave several concerts in which Hunter ballads and Missouri fiddle tunes were prominently featured. Bob Phillipps joined us for a packed house concert last week!
4) YES, the big book is still being written and [mostly] revised, but I plan to send a rough draft of the ms. out to Missouri this Fall.
That's wonderful! I can't wait to hear it! wish I could have heard that concert...
Congrats on reaching your goal!
Looking forward to the symposium!
It has been suggested we talk......