Lynn Abbott Interviews

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This digital collection consists of select interviews digitized from the Lynn Abbott collection, HJA-092, of the Hogan Archive of New Orleans Music and New Orleans Jazz, a division of Tulane University Special Collections. The audio interviews were digitized with a 2019 Recordings at Risk grant from the Council on Library & Information Resources (CLIR).

Author and historian Lynn Abbott conducted interviews from 1981 through 1995 documenting the Black acapella gospel quartet singing tradition in New Orleans, Alabama, and Mississippi from the 1920s. Interviewees include local New Orleans and regional gospel singers, performers, ensembles, vocal coaches and educators, several who are also reverends. Interviewees describe the development of their gospel sounds, styles, influences, performances, and formations of quartets. Several interviews spotlight the evolution of gospel quartets and their popularity while touring and recording, including the shift from acapella singing to a "modern quartet" with electric guitar, bass, and drum accompaniment. Notable quartet leaders and singers included in these interviews are Bessie Griffin, Mary Thames Coleman, Paul Exkano, Frank Lastie, James Payne, Albert Veal, and Sherman Washington. Influential people and quartets discussed include Gilbert Porterfield, The Zion Harmonizers, The Humming Four, The Four Great Wonders, Osceola Five, Southern Harps, and many others. Interviewees also include New Orleans-based gospel music participants who crossed over to secular music, such as Chuck Carbo, Snooks Eaglin, and Linda Hopkins.

In making these recordings available, Tulane University Special Collections and Tulane University Digital Library act in good faith. The interviews, like other digital collections, are available for use as they either have been granted permission to be made accessible, are in the public domain, can be made accessible in accordance with fair use policies, are rightfully owned by Tulane University Special Collections, have no known use restrictions, and/or TUSC was unable to confirm that the content showed risk of privacy concerns, copyright infringement, or other objectives.

If you are an interviewee or represent an interviewee and would prefer to have an interview removed, please contact Tulane University Special Collections at Your message should include the name and URL of the interview(s) to be removed, and the purpose for your removal request.

Thumbnail image: Pianist Sister Annie Pavageau and choir at Morning Star Baptist Church, 1952, New Orleans, photographer: Ralston Crawford; Ralston Crawford Collection of Jazz Photography, Box 5 #17, Tulane University, Tulane University Special Collections, New Orleans, LA.
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