Roots Artists You Should Know About

In a great deal of art, I very much like mine stripped down to the most human. Little between you, the one experiencing the art, and the artist giving you the experience. Last week over Thanksgiving vacation I dipped into some Black Roots Music that I think is just fabulous. A man (and in two instances a woman), the guitar, a beautiful voice and you. It creates a tighter and more intimate relationship between us.

Some of these folks I knew of, others were new finds. I will just provide a taste of some of them here. Many of the clips themselves give a quick little introduction to who these people were. Others you should look up and learn who they were. As you listen, think about these musicians as human beings, fathers, mothers, workers, spouses, where they lived, what they did for work, what their homes might have looked like, where they rich or poor, troubled or happy. Then consider how all these different parts of their lives shaped their remarkable talent and passion.

Eddie “Son” House, Death Letter Blues, (Just listen to him play. Amazing. He gives us a little lesson on the different types of love.)

Blind Boy Fuller, Step It Up and Go – 1940

Blind Willie McTell, Broke Down Engine – 1933   (Not all musicians from those days using the name “blind” were actually blind. Willie was from childhood.)

Walter “Brownie” McGhee, Kansas City

Mance Lipscomb, Suga Babe, It’s All Over Now and others…

Elizabeth Cotten, Freight Train, which she plays, as she describes it, in a “cotton pickin’ style”.

Blind Connie Williams, Take My Hand Precious Lord (As you can see, Connie was blind also. Sadly and remarkably, it is not known when he died, only that he was last witnessed alive in 1974.)

Blind Willie Johnson, John the Revelator  – a special duet with an unknown woman

Furry Lewis, unknown song, Goin to Brownsville

And a treat for last…

Odetta, Waterboy

Now, you’re a better, richer person. I hope I am too, for the experiences here. Share it with a friend.

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