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Oh Susanna!

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Source: Rod Smith's recording
Performer: Brazil, Lemmie
Place Collected: Sandhurst
Collector: Smith, Rod

Gipsy melodeon player, Lementina “Lemmie” Brazil, was born near Southampton and spent 26 years of her youth in Ireland, before her family returned to England to settle in Gloucester. She described some of her tunes as “Irish” and used to play for step-dance competitions. Peter Shepheard recorded her in the 1960’s and early 70’s and Gwilym Davies recorded her twice, in October 1977 and April 1981, when she was living on a caravan site near Gloucester. Rod Smith also recorded six tunes and a song from her. She played a one-row melodeon in C, though in this case, the recording sounds close to B♭. For the playing copy, we have transcribed the music in G.

Oh Susanna was written by Stephen Foster, while he was living in Cincinatti, and first performed in 1847. Lemmie’s first 8 bars are close enough to the original. From then on, she goes into a flight of fancy.