Harry: (answering who were the people he encountered and what was most meaningful for him personally when preparing the musical contribution 'The Long Road to Freedom') Leadbelly, Bessie Jones, Joe Williams and Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee were but a few of the easily identifiable personalities.
When I listen to many of the voices that sang these songs, the soulfulness with which they expressed themselves dimensionalizes for me the sense of how broad my own repertoire of songs could be. As much as I understood about the music of the Caribbean—which some people view as exclusively my artistic voice—it is the folk music of the African diaspora, which includes America and the Caribbean and Brazil and all the nations of Africa, that enriches my own work. The purity of purpose and the kind of passion Miriam Makeba and the great Calypsonian singers and the other artists I mentioned brought to their work is very, very different from the ways artists express themselves in pop culture. Pop culture has none of the vibrancy that you find in the folk culture, where people speak directly to their own experience in the human condition. Pop culture tends to be escapist and to focus on the boy/girl, moon/June, the great influence of Tin Pan Alley. We had to go outside of that arena into places that were not so accessible to find blues artists and chain gang songs and other expressions that spoke to the suffering and the conditions of black people. Also very central to my own development was Woody Guthrie and the folk art of white America, and the kind of alliances that were made between black and white people who were caught up in the working class struggle of this country, and indeed the world.