Walter (“Brownie”) McGhee was a blues singer and guitarist, well known for his collaboration with harmonica player Sonny Terry. Brownie was born in Tennessee in 1914, and was active in his home state until the late thirties when he moved to North Carolina with the express intention of becoming a recording artist.
He’d heard of J.B. Long, an enterprising chain-store manager, who’d progressed from stocking blues 78s to actually setting up sessions himself, and whose hottest property among local musicians was Blind Boy Fuller. By the time McGhee hit the Carolinas, Fuller was ailing, and he died in 1941. J.B. Long was desperate to keep tight hold on a successful formula, so he, at first released Brownie’s records under the pseudonym Blind Boy Fuller No 2, even though he was well aware of the singer’s individual potential.
Over many successful years, Brownie McGhee’s performances were so honed and polished that he more often sings not as a release from care but from a conscious artist’s desire to communicate. But he always tells the truth, and hearing him is like having a conversation with a friend.
photo: from booklet ‘Southern Train’ (label 2xHD)
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