Bess <I>Lomax</I> Hawes


Bess Lomax Hawes

Austin, Travis County, Texas, USA
Death 27 Nov 2009 (aged 88)
Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend
Memorial ID 44952050 View Source
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Musician, Music Scholar. She co-wrote the Kingston Trio hit "M.T.A.", and received the National Medal of Arts for a lifetime of contribution to folk music. Raised initially in Austin, Texas, she was schooled at home and taught piano and folk music from early childhood. Relocating to Washington, D.C. after the death of her mother in 1931, she assisted her father, John Lomax, in his pioneering folk song research at the Library of Congress. She earned her degree from Bryn Mawr College and worked at the Office of War Information in the early years of World War II. During that time she performed with the Almanac Singers, which included such notables as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. In 1943 she married musician and artist Butch Hawes (deceased 1971) and moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. There she started her teaching career, and joined Jacqueline Steiner in writing the later Kingston Trio chart topper "M.T.A.", a protest song directed at a Boston subway fare increase. A 1952 move to California found her in a bohemian community headed by actor Will Geer, performing in local venues, and teaching, first at UCLA, later at San Fernando Valley State College. After obtaining her master's at UC Berkeley, she headed the anthropology department at California State Northridge until her mid-1970s involvement with some Smithsonian folk music projects brought her to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 1977. From then until her 1992 retirement, Hawes was to head the NEA folk and traditional arts programs, creating the National Heritage Fellowships, and producing a number of films. In 1993 President Clinton awarded her the National Medal of the Arts. Her autobiography, "Sing it Pretty: A Memoir", was published in 2008. She died of a stroke. When asked the value of folk study, she said: "To me it's another way of getting to the human mystery-why people behave the way they do".

Bio by: Bob Hufford

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 29 Nov 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 44952050
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Bess Lomax Hawes (21 Jan 1921–27 Nov 2009), Find a Grave Memorial ID 44952050, ; Maintained by Find a Grave Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.