May Justus was a children’s book writer, teacher, and longtime supporter of the Highlander Folk School and its later incarnation, the Highlander Center. She was also a singer and folklorist, passions that are at the heart of a new CD released by the Tennessee Folklore Society and Jubilee Community Arts. The music on The Carawan Recordings was recorded by local folk legend Guy Carawan between 1953 and 1961 but were never released.
“For me, May represents the best of mountain tradition—a carrier of deep and beautiful culture, expressed here in the form of ballads and folk songs, stories, children’s songs and games, and a person who stood strong for her convictions,” Carawan writes in the liner notes. Justus, who died in 1989, wrote notes for the unreleased 1961 LP that are also included.
May Justus: The Carawan Recordings is available for $15 plus $2.50 shipping and handling from JCA at 1538 Laurel Ave., Knoxville, Tenn., 37916 or tennesseefolklore.org.