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Showing posts with label Blind Willie Johnson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blind Willie Johnson. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

BLACK BLUES LEGEND BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON BLASTS INTO OUTER SPACE IN NEW PICTURE BOOK ABOUT HIS SOUL-STIRRING SONG



BLACK BLUES LEGEND BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON BLASTS INTO OUTER SPACE
IN NEW PICTURE BOOK ABOUT HIS SOUL-STIRRING SONG

Ask Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Lucinda Williams and Jack White to name the slide-guitar player they most admire, and they'll all say Blind Willie Johnson. What those musicians may not know is that one of his songs found its way to the depths of outer space. In Dark Was the Night – Blind Willie Johnson's Journey to the Stars, NY Times-bestselling author Gary Golio and Caldecott Honoree E. B. Lewis weave a magical tale of how the healing power of music can turn darkness into light.

Born in 1897, young Willie shone as he sang and played a cigar box guitar made by his father. But his bright childhood fell dark when he lost both his mother and his sight. Fortunately, his love of music led him back into the light. He began singing in churches and later brought his unique blend of gospel-blues to street corners all over Texas. Willie's powerful voice, joined to the wail of his slide guitar, moved even more people when he cut some records and his songs were played on the radio. Yet by the time he died, he and his music were largely forgotten.

Then, in 1977, Willie's haunting song, "Dark Was the Night," was launched into space on the Voyager I space probe's famous Golden Record. There, along with the many sounds and sights of planet Earth, is the soul-stirring song of a blind man, telling us not to be afraid of the dark, and reminding us that we are never really alone.

"An ode to a too-little-discussed musician and an excellent introduction to his amazing musical talent."
Kirkus,
*starred review*

“An inspiring story of one man’s commitment to lifting up himself and those around him with his music.
An American treasure who shouldn’t go unsung."
Booklist

"Lewis's expressive watercolors depict the subject's humble country beginnings as well as the joy that he felt when he sang and played"
"A beautiful, timely tribute to a little-known musician and space venture."
School Library Journal, *starred review*


Gary Golio is the author of the NY Times bestseller JIMI: Sounds Like a Rainbow – A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix, winner of a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award; Bird & Diz and Strange Fruit – Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song, both ALA Notables; and other books about legendary artists. A writer and musician, Golio has been featured on NPR’s "Weekend Edition", CBS-TV’s “Sunday Morning News,” and on radio stations nationwide. He lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife, children’s book author Susanna Reich.

E.B. Lewis is a fine artist and the acclaimed illustrator of over 70 books, among them Coming On Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson (Caldecott Honor Award), Talkin' About Bessie by Nikki Grimes (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award), and The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass (Orbis Pictus Award). He is also the recipient of the NY Times Best Illustrated Book Award, Kirkus' Best Illustrated Book Award, and four additional Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards. Lewis teaches at the University of Arts in Philadelphia, and lives in Folsom, New Jersey.

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Dark Was the Night – Blind Willie Johnson's Journey to the Stars
Written by Gary Golio
Illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Published by Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books
August 2020 • Ages 5-8 • 32 pages • $17.99 hardcover/$10.99 Ebook • ISBN: 978-1524738884

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Blind Willie Johnson all-star album in the works...

GOD DON’T NEVER CHANGE:
THE SONGS OF BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON
 TRIBUTE ALBUM ONLY HAPPENS IF FANS FUND IT

Salute to legendary gospel singer-guitarist Blind Willie Johnson,
 with new recordings by Tom Waits, Sinead O’Connor,
Lucinda Williams, Luther Dickinson, Cowboys Junkies, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi, Blind Boys of Alabama and Rickie Lee Jones, is a Kickstarter project in the works.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Johnson's music was charred with purgatorial fire — more than sixty years later, you can still
smell the smoke on it.—Francis Davis, The History of the Blues 

More than 60 years after his death, Blind Willie Johnson continues to capture listeners in a way that few singers or musicians have equaled. The list of artists he has influenced goes back to Robert Johnson and forward to the White Stripes. The most obviously indebted would include several generations of hard country gospel singers, from the Blind Boys of Alabama to the Staple Singers, and the most soulful and virtuosic slide guitarists, from Mississippi Delta bluesmen to Ry Cooder.

Raising $125,000 in 30 days for an album of new recordings celebrating the music of Blind Willie Johnson is a risk that music producer Jeffrey Gaskill finds completely worthwhile. “I think when Blind Willie Johnson sat down in the recording studio in the late ’20s he understood the importance of posterity, that he was recording something to be heard by future generations. Today, his music is on a spaceship representing mankind in outer space and yet many of his recordings are virtually unknown.” But Gaskill realizes, “It’s a labor of love that will not be supported by a record label; God Don’t Never Change will
only happen if it’s going to be funded by appreciators of good music.”

According to the Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music, “It would be impossible to list every musician influenced by Blind Willie Johnson, because it would require mentioning almost everyone who ever listened to one of his records.” In
his time, Johnson was considered a singing gospel preacher. Today, he is called a “holy bluesman,” reflecting all of the blues and rock fans and musicians who have been inspired by his work. Either way, there is no more compelling voice in early American music. His music lives on, both in the gospel world and in genres he never could have imagined, and it is
a fitting honor that his legacy be saluted and carried forward into the 21st century.

In order to raise enough money to fund the project, a group of rare and collectible items are available for sale. The
fundraiser’s crown jewels include The Blind Pilgrim Collection, a set of five, unique handcrafted cigar-box
guitars made from the wood of Johnson’s 1930s Marlin, Texas home. For sale individually, the guitars are a limited, numbered set exclusively for this effort.

The Kickstarter fund raising effort begins on October 16 and ends on November 16, 2013.

The project features several rewards for investors at several levels. One-of-a-kind collectibles, content exclusives, and premiums for backers of the album include:

· Backer-only “making-of-the-album” video updates
· Exclusive CD version of the album
· Limited-edition Blind Willie Johnson T-shirts
· Set of two 180-gram LPs in a gatefold package (includes re-mastered, original Blind Willie Johnson recordings)
· Limited, signed and numbered art prints
· Box set in a hardbound case that includes 10” vinyl 33 RPM singles for each track, with a
new recording on one side and the original Johnson recording on the flipside
· Advance digital download of the new album two weeks before release
· Hand-crafted cigar-box guitars made from the wood of Johnson’s Texas home Kickstarter campaigns operate under an “all-or-nothing” funding model so if the Blind Willie Johnson project doesn’t reach its goal at the end of the 30 days the
recording won’ happen.

The project can be followed on

Monday, August 29, 2011

Nobody's Fault But Mine - BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON





"Blind" Willie Johnson (January 22, 1897 – September 18, 1945) was an American singer and guitarist whose music straddled the border between blues and spirituals. While the lyrics of all of his songs were religious, his music drew from both sacred and blues traditions. Among musicians, he is considered one of the greatest slide or bottleneck guitarists, as well as one of the most revered figures of depression-era gospel music.[citation needed] His music is distinguished by his powerful bass thumb-picking and gravelly false-bass voice, with occasional use of a tenor voice.