Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair

Some songs enjoy a long life among musicians.  “Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair” is one such song.  It was known as a traditional folk song in the Appalachian Mountains at the turn of the 20th century and was recorded by Lizzie Roberts of Hot Springs, North Carolina in 1916.

English composer and folk archivist Cecil Sharp (22 November 1859 – 23 June 1924) referred to it as being of Scottish origin after hearing the song performed during his years in America from 1916 to 1918 when he traveled throughout Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Oddly enough though, the song bears an uncanny resemblance to “The Sailor’s Sweetheart” which goes back to the early 19th century.

All that having been said, recently I heard a chillingly beautiful rendition of “Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair” by Avi Kaplan and Peter Hollens.  For those who are unfamiliar with these two talents artists, Avi Kaplan is a member of the a cappella group Pentatonix while Peter Hollens is an independent singer-songwriter and producer who is a former a cappella group member.

Rather than wax poetic over their arrangement, I’ll let the arrangement speak for itself.

Elyse Bruce

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2 Responses to “Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair”

  1. cairennhouse Says:

    When I was growing up, my mother sang a lot of traditional Appalachian music around the house. It formed the background of my childhood. I often find myself humming Wildwood Flower, her favorite song. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Elyse Bruce Says:

      You’re welcome, and thanks for your comments. I’ve always been partial to folk songs and especially those with a Celtic background. This version of “Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair” reminds me of all the reasons why folk songs are an integral cultural component of society.


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