"All of My Troubles"
(traditional) Performed by John Henry Taylor, Jr., Albert Patterson and Jewel Spotville
Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola
ALL OF MY TROUBLES - ANGOLA, LOUISIANA
At 20.1 m. is the LOUISIANA STATE PENITENTIARY (adm. by special permit from the superintendent of State Penitentiary, Baton Rouge), one of the few penal institutions that are self-supporting. … The penitentiary lands are on a broad treeless peninsula surrounded by levees except where the Tunica Hills rise abruptly. In the extreme northern portion of the tract are East Lake and Alston’s Bayou, the latter named for an eighteenth-century planter, William Alston. Farther south is long and narrow Lake Angola, or “Lake of the Cross,” where in 1699 Sieur d’Ibervilled erected a wooden cross. Pénicaut, one of d’Iberville’s lieutenants, describes the scene in his Relation: “We sang there a Vexilla Regis on our knees, which seemed to astonish these Savages very much. We made them understand that this cross was an object greatly esteemed in our religion, and that they must take care that no harm befell it.”
— Louisiana, A Guide To the State (WPA, 1941)
We’re honored to present a series of music posts today, courtesy of filmmaker and ethnomusicologist Benjamin Harbert. Ben is a professor at Georgetown University and over the course of two years, he filmed and recorded music at three Louisiana prisons. This is jaw-dropping stuff, folks.
The resulting documentary, Follow Me Down, has been touring the country and we suggest you catch it when it comes to a city near you. Luckily for New Englanders, the film is screening three times this week:
The track in this post is a traditional gospel song performed by John Henry Taylor, Jr., Albert Patterson and Jewel Spotville — inmates of the Angola State Penitentiary. Stay tuned today for two more songs and an interview with filmmaker Ben Harbert.