Commentary by Big Bill Broonzy on playing music for black audiences
@ University of Mississippi Libraries
DescriptionBig Bill Broonzy discusses how people in the South used to think that anything good was too good for the negro and was only for the white people. That was the reason he started playing for white people and not black people, because he was really good. In 1947, using his own Presto disc recording machine, Alan Lomax recorded bluesmen Big Bill Broonzy (1893-1958), Memphis Slim (1915-1988), and Sonny Boy Williamson (1914-1948) at Decca Studios in New York City, after they had given a concert at Town Hall. In a session of candid oral history and song, the three artists explain the origin and nature of the blues."They began with blues as a record of the problems of love and women in the Delta world," Lomax wrote."They explored the cause of this in the stringent poverty of black rural life. They recalled life in the Mississippi work camps, where the penitentiary stood at the end of the road, waiting to receive the rebellious. Finally, they came to the enormities of the lynch system that threatened anyone who defied its rules." The interviews were issued in a fictionalized form in Common Ground (1948) under the title "I Got the Blues," but they were deemed so controversial that their album release was delayed for ten years. When United Artists finally issued them on LP as Blues in the Mississippi Night in 1959, Alan used pseudonyms to protect the artists and their families. (See the Blues in the Mississippi Night CD [Rounder 1860].)
2 March 1947
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