Jablonski, Marek (Michael)


Jefferson, Blind Lemon [Lemmon]



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Jefferson, Blind Lemon [Lemmon]


(b Couchman, TX, Sept 1897; d Chicago, 18/19 Dec 1929). American blues singer and guitarist. His sight deteriorated in early childhood, and as a teenager he made a living by singing in the streets of various Texas towns. In 1917 he moved to Dallas, where he sang with Leadbelly. After travelling in various southern states in the early 1920s, he went to Chicago (1925), where he began a series of recordings of exceptional importance. Jefferson was the most influential of all black American folk-blues singers and one of the greatest performers in his idiom. His voice was not strident, but high enough to carry above street noises and attract attention from some distance. At times he sang in a low, moaning fashion, which he complemented by the use of bent notes on the guitar; Long Lonesome Blues and Shuckin’ Sugar Blues (both 1926, Para.) are representative of his haunting, melancholy style. Although he rarely used a slide, an exception being on the blues-ballad Jack O’Diamond Blues (1926, Para.), he produced cries or imitative passages on the strings, most characteristically on his two best recorded songs, Black Snake Moan and Match Box Blues (both 1927, OK). His compositions, which often imply that he had at least partial sight, were frequently autobiographical, as in Pneumonia Blues (1929, Para.); others showed a concern for the fate of prison inmates, such as Hangman’s Blues and Blind Lemon's Penitentiary Blues (both 1928, Para.). Jefferson’s songs were recorded in many versions by other blues singers, but his unique guitar playing was rarely successfully imitated.


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