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The Blues Masters – Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee

 

Brownie McGhee was born Walter Brown McGhee in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1915. His Uncle was a proficient fiddler and gave young Brownie his first instrument. Brownie contracted Polio at a young age, so he spent much of his time in bed practicing the guitar. He began early playing around the Southeastern United States. Sonny Terry was born Saunders Terrell in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1911.

Sonny Terry's father was a farmer and musician, who taught Sonny love of the Blues, and how to play Blues harmonica. He traveled with medicine shows and eventually met Blind Boy Fuller, and first recorded with the 'Piedmont Blues' guitarist in 1937 for Vocalion Records. Brownie first met Sonny Terry in North Carolina in 1939 and worked with him and singer Paul Robeson in Washington, DC, in 1940. Brownie McGhee began to record for Okeh Records in 1940. Brownie had Sonny Terry play on his recording session of Workingman's Blues, and a long-standing partnership was formed. Shortly after they relocated and broke into the New York Folk scene, working alongside Leadbelly, Josh White, and Woody Guthrie. From 1942 to 1950 Brownie McGhee also ran his own music school, 'Home of the Blues', in Harlem. After the end of WWII, Brownie began to record, both with and without Sonny Terry, for a myriad of R&B labels: Savoy, Alert, London, Derby, Dot, and Harlem. Sonny Terry was doing the same with recordings for Jackson, Red Robin, RCA Victor, Groove, Harlem, Old Town, and Ember, usually with Brownie on guitar. Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry were among the first Blues artists to tour Europe during the 1950s and recording to the early-'60s albums for Folkways, Choice, World Pacific, Bluesville, and Fantasy. They also toured with many Folk festivals in America, Canada and Europe, appearing on television and movies. Both Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry continued to record solo as well as together. Brownie appeared in Tennessee Williams' play 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' on Broadway, 1955-57, and recorded several motion-picture soundtracks. They finally parted their ways in the mid-1970's due to personal problems. Sonny Terry continued to play and record, passing away in 1986. Brownie McGhee carried on for the next 10 years performing festivals and recording. His final appearance was at the Chicago Blues festival in 1995 before passing Feb.16, 1996, Oakland, California. Sonny Terry was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1987. Brownie McGhee was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1997

Thanks to www.livinblues.com

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