Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Elizabeth (Libba) Cotten (1896-1987)

Sierra Club


Libba Cotten began recording and performing after the age of 60. "Freight Train" was written when she was just twelve years old and has long been considered an American folk song classic. The self taught Cotten learned to play guitar upside down and left-handed. Cotten worked as a domestic for the famous folk-singing Seeger family (Charles, Ruth, and their children, Pete, Mike, and Peggy). Mike Seeger recorded Cotten for Folkways Records in 1958. Cotten performed at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964 and at the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife from 1968 to 1971. Cotten won the National Folk Association's Burl Ives Award for her contribution to American folk music in 1972. Her last album, Elizabeth Cotten Live! was recorded in 1985. Cotten's songs have been recorded by the Grateful Dead, Taj Mahal, and Peter, Paul and Mary. [Adapted from Blue Flame Cafe]


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