Mudcat Café message #71215 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #10169   Message #71215
Posted By: Arkie
15-Apr-99 - 10:57 PM
Thread Name: Songs about Singers
Subject: RE: Songs about Singers
Charlie Sandage, a songwriter living in Mountain View, Ark. has written a tribute to three traditional women singers who were instrumental in keeping the ballad tradition alive in this state. The three are Almeda Riddle, a descendant of Jessie James, who learned from her singing school teacher father and others in her community and appeared at Newport and other big Festivals in the 60's and beyond; Emma Dusenberry, a blind singer living near Mena, Ark who was recorded for the Library of Congress; and Ollie Gilbert, a local lady who knew hundreds of songs and stories and kept her list on a roll of adding machine paper, which she would toss out on the floor when someone requested a song. All sang unaccompaned although Aunt Ollie, as she was known in Mountain View, would sometimes play the banjo.

I was to introduce Almeda at the Ozark Folk Center one evening when she opened her purse and showed me a bottle in one of the inside pockets. These were her nitro glycerine tablets. Her instructions were that if she was to pass out on stage, I was to place a tablet under her tongue. She had at least one person in her audience that night who did not miss a word. On another occasion, after she finished singing Gypsy Davy, she mentioned that people sometimes complained because her songs were so long. She went on to say that she should not be considered at fault, because she had not written the songs.

If there is any interest, I'll check with Charlie to see if I can post the words.