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Black is the colour of my true love's hair

author of text

Two American melodies from Kentucky are widely associated with the lyric Black is the colour of my true love’s hair. The younger melody was composed by Kentuckian John Jacob Niles, collector and performer of Appalachian folk songs, and an important influence on the American Folk revival in the 1950s. In a biography of Niles—I Wonder As I Wander—Professor Ron Pen of the University of Kentucky has observed that Niles created a completely different melody from the versions he had collected in Kentucky in 1916. The melody used for this choral arrangement is the version sung by Irish singer/songwriter Christy Moore, who learned the song from Scottish folk singer Hamish Imlach in 1968. This modern Scottish song is a rendering of an Appalachian antecedent of Niles’ version collected by Cecil Sharp in Kentucky and published in English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians (1917).

from notes by Desmond Earley © 2015


Invisible Stars
Studio Master: SIGCD436Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Track 10 on SIGCD436 [3'40] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD436 track 10

Recording date
22 March 2015
Recording venue
Castleknock College Chapel, Dublin, Ireland
Recording producer
Nigel Short
Recording engineer
Andrew Mellor
Hyperion usage
  1. Invisible Stars (SIGCD436)
    Disc 1 Track 10
    Release date: December 2015
    Download only
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