I made up a lot of the songs I sing. It's like you hear a record or something or other. Well, you pick out some words out of that record that you like. You sing that and add something else onto it. It's just like if you're going to pray, and mean it, things will be in your mind. As fast as you get one word out, something else will come in there. Songs should tell the truth... When I play - if you pay attention, what I sing the guitar sings, too. And what the guitar say, I say. - Fred McDowell
Three days after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, performer Nina Simone and her band played at the Westbury Music Festival on Long Island, N.Y. They performed "Why? (The King of Love is Dead)", a song they had just learned, written by their bass player Gene Taylor in reaction to King's death.
To me, Etta James stands as one of the greatest singers of all time… any genre, any era. The sheer power and depth of emotion, phrasing and nuance in her voice set her so far above the rest, and have since she first started out. Her perseverance, ferocity and vulnerability have been as inspirational to me as her monumental talent. I bow to you, my dear friend and soul Sister…now and for always. Love, Bonnie Raitt
We'll never be sure when Rev. Willie Johnson was born. The death certificate says Jan 22nd, other research says it may be Jan 25th. But does it matter...He is arguably the greatest and most influential slide player ever recorded. Or as Ry Cooder said, "He’s so good – I mean, he’s just so good! Beyond a guitar player. I think the guy is one of these interplanetary world musicians, the kind of person they talk about in that Nada Brahma book, where the world is sound and everything is resonating. He’s one of those guys. There’s only a few." Happy Birthday!
Harmonica player Hammie Nixon was born on January 22, 1908, in Brownsville, TN. An orphan at a young age, he was raised by foster parents. He began his career as a professional harmonical player in the 1920s, but also played the kazoo, guitar, and jug. He performed with Sleepy John Estes for more than 50 years, first recording with Estes in 1929 for the Victor label. He also recorded with Little Buddy Doyle, Lee Green, Charlie Pickett, and Son Bonds.
Nixon helped to pioneer the use of the harmonica as an accompaniment instrument with a band in the 1920s. Previous to that time, it had been mostly a solo instrument. He played with many jug bands. After Estes died, Nixon played with the Beale Street Jug Band (also called the Memphis Beale Street Jug Band) from 1979 onward. Hammie Nixon died August 17, 1984.