C.C. Rider the Venerator: Sonny Terry


cc logo 4 dark brown small canvasThis is the latest from The Bluesmobile’s C.C. Rider, who spends her life venerating the founding fathers of the blues. She’s walked the crooked highways of this singing country to resurrect the voices of the past. With the dirt of the Delta on her hands, she sleeps in the shadow of the giants on whose shoulders popular music now stands.

Sonny Terry

(b. October 24, 1911-March 11, 1986)

Sonny Terry never thought about a music career. He did well in school, and liked farming. Wanted to grow up, continue his education and have his own farm. But by 18, two separate accidents left him completely blind. All that was left for him job-wise was music. Luckily, Sonny grew up singing in church, and spent his evenings with his harp, imitating the trains that blew by his house. He could imitate animals too, mock the sounds of working on a farm. All with his ethereal voice and his strange harmonica.

So he devoted himself to life as a musician. Worked alongside other famous blind pickers like Reverend Gary Davis and Blind Boy Fuller. And often walked long Georgia roads alone in the dark to get to corners where he could sing and play for passersby. One evening Sonny was in town playing a tune. Though he didn’t know it, a man was listening to him play. And couldn’t believe what he heard. That man was a record scout looking to sign new talent. He signed Sonny, and the rest was history.

Sonny went on to have a long career as a folk star. Acted in a number of Broadway shows including the original Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and appearing in a few movies. But he gained most of his traction as a duo with his partner Brownie McGhee. Here are the two of ‘em with “Bring It On Home to Me.”

The Veneration of Sonny Terry
Continues at CCRiderBlues.com