The Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries at Vanderbilt University in Nashville has acquired the personal collection of Dom Flemons, a Grammy Award-winning songwriter, multi instrumentalist and cultural historian whose music and research have brought greater awareness to African Americans’ extensive contributions to roots music. The collection was compiled and curated by Flemons and his wife, Vania Kinard, to include research materials on Black cowboys, musical instruments, an Edison phonograph with several playable wax cylinders, historical sheet music, Weld recordings, art pieces, memorabilia, personal gifts, autographed records, and materials documenting Flemons’ 20-year professional music career.
“From the moment I began my journey into a career in music, I found that my trajectory led me to acquire items that would be of interest to future generations,” Flemons said. “Many of the items, which are unique in nature, will give viewers insight into my own personal passion for music and the history that surrounds it.”
Housed in Vanderbilt’s Special Collections and University Archives , the Dom Flemons American Songster Collection was acquired from the artist through the university’s academic archive purchasing fund in collaboration with the National Museum of African American Music. The fund supports Heard Libraries’ expanding collections of books, scores, sound recordings and material objects related to African American music and makes those collections available for loan, display and study at the museum.
“This is a treasure trove for anyone interested in Americana music,” said university librarian Jon Shaw. “Dom Flemons has assembled a remarkable collection that illustrates the significant role African Americans have played in shaping roots music over many decades, and I’m delighted these materials are now available for wider research and teaching through our libraries’ collaborative partnership with the National Museum of African American Music.