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Blind Boy Fuller

During his short but prolific recording career, circa 1935- 1941, Piedmont bluesman Blind Boy Fuller was one of the most popular performers in the Southeast United States. His records sold in the thousands, (impressive numbers during the late-1930s) and his ability to perform in traditional blues, ragtime, hokum, and pop styles allowed him to reach the broadest audience possible. Possessing a bold, expressive voice and an impressive finger-picking style typical of Piedmont blues, Fuller and his steel National resonator guitar remained extremely popular both on record and in person until his death in 1941.

Born Fulton Allen in rural North Carolina, Fuller learned to play the guitar at an early age, learning the traditional field hollers and country rag songs from older singers. He lost his sight sometime during his late-teens, and turned to playing street corners and in front of tobacco warehouses - where many African-Americans in the region worked - in cities like Durham and Raleigh. He met his wife Cora Mae Allen and settled down in Durham during the early-1930s.

James Baxter Long (also known as J.B. Long), a local record retailer, heard Fuller perform and he arranged to have him record for the American Record Company (ARC). Long gave the guitarist his “Blind Boy Fuller” name, and became his manager, arranging to take the bluesman to New York City to record in 1935. With guitarist Gary Davis and washboard player Bull City Red (George Washington) in tow, Fuller recorded several sides for ARC, including the traditional “Rag, Mama, Rag.”

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