Coolest Story You'll Ever Read About Music - The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by dancarlsen, Apr 14, 2014.

  1. dancarlsen


    Oct 31, 2008
    If you didn't catch this yet, the New York Time's interactive story "The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie - On the trail of the phantom women who changed American music and then vanished without a trace" will blow you away. A mystery involving lost singers, obsessive collectors, and rediscovering a part of the history of American music. A must read - seriously!

    "IN THE WORLD of early-20th-century African-American music and people obsessed by it, who can appear from one angle like a clique of pale and misanthropic scholar-gatherers and from another like a sizable chunk of the human population, there exist no ghosts more vexing than a couple of women identified on three ultrarare records made in 1930 and ’31 as Elvie Thomas and Geeshie Wiley. There are musicians as obscure as Wiley and Thomas, and musicians as great, but in none does the Venn diagram of greatness and lostness reveal such vast and bewildering co-extent. In the spring of 1930, in a damp and dimly lit studio, in a small Wisconsin village on the western shore of Lake Michigan, the duo recorded a batch of songs that for more than half a century have been numbered among the masterpieces of prewar American music, in particular two, Elvie’s “Motherless Child Blues” and Geeshie’s “Last Kind Words Blues,” twin Alps of their tiny oeuvre, inspiring essays and novels and films and cover versions, a classical arrangement."