Beyond the Willow Tree (Limited Gatefold)
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Beyond The Willow Tree is a hauntingly beautiful anthology of folk songs chronicling the experience of a young black man growing up in the segregated south. A balanced mix of covers and originals, Cleveland Francis’ body of work seamlessly blends deep, soulful vocals with the stripped-down acoustic instrumentation of folk. In the late 60’s Francis coined the term “soulfolk”, playing his genre bending music across college campuses and coffee shops while earning a medical degree at William & Mary.
These songs serve as a missing link between soul and folk music, suppressed by the harsh political landscape of a music industry heavily influenced by racial stereotypes. “If you were black, you played blues or soul music … I wanted to play folk music,” Cleveland professed.
Included in this double LP set is Cleveland Francis’ entire 1970 self-released album Follow Me, featuring the original artwork and liner notes printed inside the gatefold. The second LP takes you Beyond The Willow Tree with unreleased demos recorded in 1968 along with one 45 only single recorded in 1970.