Tag Archives: South Georgia Musicians

Fletcher Henderson House, 1888, Cuthbert

This home was built by Professor Fletcher Hamilton Henderson, Cuthbert’s preeminent black educator for well over half a century. Professor Henderson served as principal of Howard Normal School (later Randolph County Training School) from 1880-1942. The institution was owned by the American Missionary Association, a leading advocate for African-American education in the years following the Civil War. Henderson married Ozie Lena Chapman of Cuthbert in 1883. Mrs. Henderson also became an educator.

It’s likewise important as the birthplace of Fletcher Henderson, Jr., and Horace Henderson, who were influential in American music in the first half of the 20th century.  Upon completing college at Atlanta University in 1920, Fletcher (aka Smack) moved to New York and soon began working for Pace & Handy, a prominent publisher of African-American music. He was also an active member of the Harlem Symphony and later fronted a touring band that featured singer Ethel Waters. The band has the distinction of having the first known broadcast of jazz on radio, at New Orleans in 1922. At the height of the Harlem Renaissance, Henderson was the go-to accompanist of the great blues singers of the era and led the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra at Roseland Ballroom for many years. He worked with numerous instrumentalists, including Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Green, Don Redman, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Dixon, Fats Waller, and June Cole, among others. He sold his arrangements to Benny Goodman in the 1930s and worked with Goodman’s orchestra in the late 1930s and 1940s. The up-tempo jazz that Henderson had been playing in the 1920s came to be known as “swing”. Benny Goodman noted…Fletcher had one of the first great jazz swing bands in America and influenced any number of musicians in America.

Flectcher Henderson died in 1952.  His brother Horace, who led his own smaller band, went on to do arrangements for the Glenn Miller Orchestra and toured with Lena Horne at the height of her popularity. He continued to work with small bands until the 1970s.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --RANDOLPH COUNTY GA--, Cuthbert GA

Tom Darby & Jimmie Tarlton’s “Columbus Stockade Blues”

Columbus Stockade Blues Tom Darby Jimmie Tarlton Early Georgia Roots Musicians Real Photo Postcard Collection of Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014Tom Darby (l) & Jimmie Tarlton. Real Photo Promotional Postcard, 1927. Collection of Brian Brown.

This postcard came into my possession through the estate of a cousin, who was a great niece of Tom Darby. Largely forgotten today, Thomas P. (Tom) Darby [1892-1971] and James J. (Jimmie) Tarlton [1892-1979] were considered not only legendary bluesmen but pioneers of country music as well. They’ve been called the first country musicians to employ the steel guitar. Their most famous work, “Columbus Stockade Blues”, has been covered by artists ranging from Doc Watson and Willie Nelson to Bill Monroe, Jimmie Davis, and Bob Dylan. When they made the recording for Columbia in Atlanta in November 1927 Tom Darby pressed for a flat payment of $150 but Jimmie Tarlton wanted royalties. The song took off and sold over 200,000 copies in a short time and though the duo recorded 63 more songs dating to 1933, hostilities over lost royalties finally drove them apart. They reunited in 1965 for a symphony appearance in Columbus but no further collaborative recordings were made. Tarlton, always considered the standout of the duo, did make solo recordings in the 1960s. Search Amazon for compilations, which are available and provide valuable insight into the birth of American popular music.

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Filed under --MUSCOGEE COUNTY GA--, Columbus GA

South Georgia Tobacco Culture, 1955

Georgia Tobacco Season First Day Music Celebration 1950s Post Card Collection of Brian Brown Copyright Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

This rare postcard from my collection is postmarked 1955 from Lyons. I don’t know that the photograph was local to that area; it may have been a stock image sold in different parts of the South, but it’s one of my favorites.

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Filed under --TOOMBS COUNTY GA--, Lyons GA

The Parish Family’s “Old House”

The Parish Family Music CD Cover Old House Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

Whether you’re a gospel fan or country music is your preference, you’ll find a perfect combination of those two styles with The Parish Family’s newest CD, Old House. (I was honored that they used one of my photographs on the cover). Longtime country and gospel fans familiar with the band Shenandoah will enjoy Marty Raybon’s guest spot. The Parish Family is based in Bainbridge and consists of brothers Ronnie & Mark, and Ronnie’s wife, Kesha Parish. All three members are accomplished songwriters and perform largely from their own catalog. They’ve had number one hits and continue to receive numerous awards, but when you listen to their work, you’ll know that they’re not in it for that. There’s no doubting that they love what they do.  To me, it’s like hearing the old-time gospel I remember from my childhood with a slightly modern twist.

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Filed under --DECATUR COUNTY GA--, Bainbridge GA

Ma Rainey Home, Columbus

ma-rainey-home-columbus-ga-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vaniishing-south-georgia-usa-2010

Born in either in Alabama in 1882 or in Columbus in 1886, Gertrude Pridgett was interested in music from an early age and played in a talent show at the nearby Springer Opera House at the age of 14. In 1902 she began touring with minstrel shows and by 1904 had met and married William “Pa” Rainey, hence her professional name, “Ma” Rainey. They first operated the Alabama Fun Makers Company but by 1906 were touring with the Rabbit’s Foot Company. In 1914, the pair were known as the “Assasinators of the Blues”.  The marriage didn’t last long after this time, but her musical innovations, introducing blues and jazz into her acts, led to her billing as “Mother of the Blues”.  She was said to be a major influence on Bessie Smith, with whom she toured for a time. She was a pioneer female recording artist and made 94 records for Paramount. At least 47 were her own compositions. She is a member of several halls of fame, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was been featured on a 1994 commemorative U. S. postage stamp. She built this house for her mother at the height of her success (likely the mid-1920s) and upon returning to Columbus to manage three theatres in 1935, she moved in. She died in 1939. By 1991, the house was nearly demolished due to its derelict state, but thanks to the efforts of Fred C. Fussell and Friends of Ma Rainey chairwoman Florene Dawkins, it was saved. Find out more from Columbus Parks and Recreation, who now administer this important historic site.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --MUSCOGEE COUNTY GA--, Columbus GA