Elizabeth Cotten was born in January of 1895 in Chapel Hill, NC, where her father worked in the mines and her mother was a maid servant and laundress. She began playing guitar at the age of eight, secretly practicing on her older brother's instrument. At the age of 12, she began to work with her mother in helping the family to scrape by, though she continued to play music with her family, in particular her siblings. Sometime around 1912 she was married and joined the church, which occasioned her to give up playing music for the next 25 years. Through a series of strange accidents, she once found the daughter of Peggy and Pete Seeger in a department store and came to work for them, which led to her re-involvement with music. She played frequently during the '60s and '70s, often with Mike Seeger; the recordings collected here were made during 1957 and 1958 at her home in Washington. Cotten has a very distinctive picking style and a beautifully fragile and off-key voice; both make these recordings a pleasure. Included are a mix of originals and personal versions. Of note are "Vastopol," which sounds nothing like the John Fahey version, and "Sweet Bye and Bye," of which this version might be specific to North Carolina. Also enjoyable is "Honey Babe Your Papa Cares for You," whose melodically vague style is characteristic of Cotten's ear and unique way of suppressing melody. If this album intrigues you, you might want to check out her live album on Arhoolie, which some believe to be even better.
Password and Link:
mp3 320 kbps - 77 Mb