Bess Lomax Hawes Dies

bessLifelong folk-music champion Bess Lomax Hawes died Friday, November 27 at the age of 88 in Portland, Oregon.

In 1941-43 she was a member of The Almanac Singers alongside Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. In 1948, she wrote the folk classic “M.T.A.,” which became a hit for The Kingston Trio in 1959. She moved to Los Angeles in 1952 and taught guitar, mandolin and banjo, as well as folk-song classes.

During her long and productive career, Bess Lomax Hawes taught college, produced film documentaries, launched folk festivals and wrote three books. The most recent of her books is 2008’s autobiography Sing It Pretty: A Memoir.

At the National Endowment for the Arts, she served for 16 years as the director of the Folk and Traditional Arts Program and created the National Heritage Fellowships. In 1993, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton.

Bess Lomax Hawes is the aunt of Nashville journalist and Roots Music Exporters businessman John Lomax III. She is also survived by three children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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