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Charles D. Grear

musician, performer, songwriter, and southern musical legend. Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown—“Gatemouth” because of his deep voice—emerged as a musical legend in the South for more than fifty years. Brown was heavily influenced by the music of Texas and Louisiana, and his range of styles included the blues, rhythm and blues (R&B), country, swing, jazz, and Cajun. A virtuoso on guitar, violin, mandolin, viola, harmonica, and drums, Brown influenced and was influenced by performers as diverse as Albert Collins, Eric Clapton, Frank Zappa, Lonnie Brooks, Guitar Slim, and Joe Louis Walker. Throughout his career he recorded more than thirty albums. Those who have been featured on his albums include Eric Clapton, Ry Cooder, Amos Garrett, Jim Keltner, Maria Muldaur, and Leon Russell.

Born on 18 April 1924 in Vinton Louisiana Brown was raised in Orange Texas ...


blues singer, songwriter, guitarist, and fiddle player, was born in Vinton, Louisiana, and moved across the Sabine River with his family to Orange, Texas, when he was a few weeks old. He began playing the fiddle when he was five, learning the instrument from his father, Clarence Brown Sr.—a railroad worker who played and sang everything from traditional French songs to German polkas—and taught himself to play the guitar when he was ten. Brown's mother, Jenny, played the piano.

As a boy Brown would hang outside the local jazz clubs, and once when he was listening to Duke Ellington practice the musician invited him to sit with him on the piano bench Brown claimed he acquired his nickname when a high school teacher said he had a voice like a gate though he long promised to reveal the true account of how he became ...


Cynthia Greenlee-Donnell

musician, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, to an African American mother Deborah A. Jamieson and a white father, David Monroe Giddens, both of whom had some Native American heritage as well. Giddens became a central figure in the early-twenty-first-century movement to reclaim the banjo's roots in southern black communities, where it was once a musical mainstay, and its greater historical lineage in Africa.

As a youngster, Giddens was exposed to a variety of musical influences. Her parents listened to bluegrass, classic blues, and jazz, and her father sometimes sang folk music around town. Nonetheless, she came late to the realization that music would be her consuming passion.

Through much of her education at one of North Carolina's few surviving predominantly black high schools, and the prestigious North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Giddens focused on becoming a computer animator. The turning point was her 1994 ...


William E. Lightfoot

guitarist and fiddler, was born in a mining camp near Cromwell, in Ohio County, Kentucky. He was the firstborn son of David, who was born into slavery in 1844, and Elizabeth, a freeborn sixteen-year-old.

In 1900 when Shultz was fourteen, his half brother Ed, who worked on one of the many riverboats that cruised the Green River, gave him a guitar and a few lessons. Shultz honed his skills by becoming a member of the Shultz family band, playing guitar and fiddle in old-time British dance tunes. The region was quite rich musically, and one imagines that he also learned from such other notable black musicians in the area as Jim Mason, Amos Johnson, and Walter Taylor as well as from traveling tent medicine and minstrel shows and the wide variety of music performed on the showboats that docked at cities along the ...


Tony Thomas

perhaps the last traditional African American fiddler, was born Joseph Aquilla Thompson in the High Rock community equidistant from Mebane, Efland, and Cedar Grove, in northern Orange County, North Carolina. He was the son of Rosa Crisp Thompson (1882–1960) and John Arch Thompson (1878–1968), a farmer and fiddler who later worked as an elementary school janitor. John Arch Thompson's father, Robert Thompson (1849–?), had moved his family from Person County, North Carolina, to Cedar Grove by 1900. By the time of Joe's birth, John Arch Thompson on fiddle and his brothers Jacob (1876–1950) and Walter (1882–1949) on banjos played for white and black dancers six nights a week. At age five Joe Thompson obtained a small fiddle and mastered the tune Hook and Line so well that his father who had forbidden Joe to touch his violin ...


David Dabydeen

Actor, fiddler, and beggar who acted and busked around London in the 1780s. Waters was a common sight outside the Adelphi Theatre in the Strand. Apart from busking, he also acted, appearing as himself in a dramatized version of Pierce Egan'sLife in London (1821) at the Adelphi and at the Caledonian Theatre in Edinburgh in 1822. He would also play his fiddle, becoming a street musician outside the Drury Lane Theatre. His wooden leg as well as his outfit, which resembled that of a military uniform, made him a unique and distinct character. The well‐known cartoonist George Cruikshank caricatured him. Waters ended up penniless on the streets of London in the St Giles area, where the black poor congregated. In 1823 he became ill and died at St Giles s workhouse Just before his death he was elected King of the Beggars by fellow beggars ...