Early Doc Watson Recording in Appalachian Collection

Abrams record label

The earliest recording of Doc Watson is part of the archival collections of the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection at Belk Library and Information Commons at Appalachian State University.  This now internationally-known performer from Deep Gap, North Carolina, performed “Precious Jewel” at the 1941 Boone Fiddler’s Convention and was recorded by folklorist Dr. Amos Abrams.  The recording is available online as part of the Library’s digital collections.

Dr. Amos Abrams (1905-1991), an English professor at Appalachian State Teacher’s College from 1932 to 1946, made this recording of Doc Watson when Watson was about 18 years old.  As he tells at the beginning of the recording, Dr. Abrams thought that this was the first time Watson had sung for a microphone.

Dr. Abrams was an active collector, scholar, and promoter of North Carolina folklore.  His archival collection contains hundreds of field recordings from the 1930s and 1940s of the traditional music of western North Carolina, including well-known musicians such as Doc Watson and Frank Profitt.  The titles contained in Abrams’ collection range from Child Ballads to nineteenth century popular music to compositions of local origin.  The collection includes transcriptions of the songs and their variants, also created by Dr. Abrams.

Hear Doc Watson singing “Precious Jewel” in 1941.

Listen to field recordings in the Abrams collection.

View transcripts of songs in the Abrams collection.

For more information about the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection, please visit our website or call 828-262-4041.

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