Friday, August 22, 2014

Blind Willie McTell: Atlanta Twelve String Guitar

Blind Willie McTell was a country blues singer/guitarist and probably the greatest performer of the Piedmont style of blues playing. He also played ragtime music. McTell was born blind as William Samuel McTier, in Thomson, Georgia, in 1898.

McTell learned to read and write music from Braille, and acquired a six-string guitar in his early teens. He was born into a musical family, and is a relation of gospel music pioneer, Thomas A. Dorsey. When his mother died during the Twenties, the now parentless McTell began wandering The South. He wound up in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1927, and scored a recording contract with Victor Records. He would remain in Atlanta and record for several record companies.

McTell’s best known song is “Statesboro Blues,” which was recorded by the Allman Brothers Band. The White Stripes have recorded two of his tunes, “Southern Can Mama” and “Lord, Send Me an Angel.”

McTell’s albums, “Atlanta Twelve String: Blues Originals Vol. 1” (1972), “The Definitive Blind Willie McTell” (1994), and “King of Georgia Blues” (2007) are all essential listening.