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Bill McCulloch and Barry Lee Pearson

blues singer and songwriter, was born in Forest, Mississippi, between Jackson and Meridian, the son of Minnie Louise Crudup, an unmarried domestic worker. His father was reputed to be a musician, but Crudup recalled seeing him only twice. Raised by his mother in poverty, Crudup began singing both blues and religious music around age ten. In 1916 he and his mother moved to Indianapolis. After she became ill, Crudup dropped out of school and took a job in a foundry at age thirteen.

According to his own account Crudup did not start playing guitar until around 1937, by which time he had returned to the South, married and divorced his first wife, Annie Bell Reed and taken work as a farmhand Supposedly he found a guitar with only two strings and one by one added the other four while picking up rudimentary chords from a local musician ...

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Mark Allan Jackson

songwriter and labor activist, was born to George and Vinna Handcox on their farm near Brinkley, Arkansas. Unlike many African Americans in the rural South at this time, the Handcox family owned their own land. However, it was not very productive, so they had to rent land on which to grow cotton, the area's dominant crop.

Because of his responsibilities, young Handcox could not devote much time to education. Five months a year were all that most farm children in Arkansas could spare to attend school, a schedule dictated by the cotton-growing season. But Handcox thrived there, mainly because of his interest in poetry. His father bought him a book by the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar who became Handcox s model for his own writing Often he was asked to recite his work during school events and when he graduated from the ninth grade the end to his ...

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Bill McCulloch and Barry Lee Pearson

blues musician, was born Robert Lee McCullum (or McCollum) in Helena, Arkansas. Almost nothing is known of his parents except that his father's surname was McCullum, that his mother's maiden name was McCoy, and that they were sharecroppers. When still in his teens Robert left home to travel and work. He began his musical career as a harmonica player but switched to guitar around 1930 when he and a cousin, Houston Stackhouse, were working on a farm in Murphy's Bayou, Mississippi. Stackhouse, who had traveled with and learned from the Delta blues legend Tommy Johnson, recalled that he taught McCullum to play guitar, passing along much of the Johnson repertoire. At the same time McCullum taught his brother Percy to play harmonica, and the three began playing locally, eventually branching out to such Mississippi venues as Crystal Springs and Jackson.

After a mid 1930s altercation one that ...