Sarah Webster Fabio was an American poet, literary critic and educator who spent a lifetime studying and writing poetry. Throughout her career she self-published nine books of poetry, wrote several collections, including poetry and prose and also released four albums of poetic recordings for Smithsonian Folkways Records in the early to mid-70’s!
Fabio’s poetry quickly became associated with the Black Arts Movement through her work in establishing Black Arts departments throughout the West Coast. She was also part of a very active group of culture critics who wrote for national publications such as Negro Digest, Black World and Black Scholar. Her works have since been collected in many of the most important 1960’s-era poetry collections.
Accompanied by her children or her house band also known as “Don’t Fight the Feeling”, Jujus / Alchemy Of The Blues was Sarah Webster Fabio’s third studio album. Released in 1976, its title is derived from Rainbow Signs, her seven-volume self-published poetry journals. Speaking of the album she once explained how, “I feel that these [poems] represent the epitome of my experimenting with the integration of music and poetry in a Black idiom taken from the rich source of inspiration welling from the Black experience here in America.”
Featuring on this album is the expressive and oh-so-cool, Sweet Songs. Possibly one of the funkiest and (perhaps) influential tracks ever cut by Fabio, this righteous poetry is beautifully combined with just over five minutes of blissful, soul sounds. Throughout the song we have percussive solos, a mighty fine bass solo and the groove of Websters vocals smoothly serving up a dish of colourful and soulful jazz magic!
Check it out above and listen to the whole album (courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings) here.
If you want to learn more about this fascinating poet you can also read this excerpt from Vinyl Me, Please (who worked closely with Smithsonian Folkways to replicate the Juju’s original album packaging from 1976). Taken from their Listening Notes Booklet this article, written by Webster Fabio’s daughter, Cheryl Fabio (who made a documentary about her Mum in the ’70s.), highlights her Mums career. Check that out here.