In the mid-60s, Michael Asch, son of Folkways Records founder Moses Asch, received audition tapes from Lynn Productions of New Orleans that featured a compilation of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and doo-wop tracks. The recording sessions were led by Al White and the Hi-Liters, a prominent doo-wop group from the South who enlisted local bands and artists to showcase their sound for the records. What resulted were two records released by Folkways: Roots: Rhythm and Blues and Roots: The Rock and Roll Sound of Louisiana and Mississippi. While the names of the albums may assume the racial distinction between the two “genres,” the recording sessions featured both black and white musicians playing together on tracks of both genres.
This playlist features takes from these albums, as well as other notable R&B tracks from the Smithsonian Folkways collection.