Saturday, October 1, 2016
Walter Brown "Brownie" McGhee
Walter Brown "Brownie" McGhee (1915 –1996) was an African-American folk music and Piedmont blues singer and guitarist, best known for his collaboration with the harmonica player Sonny Terry.
His father, George McGhee, was a factory worker known around University Avenue in Nashvillefor playing guitar and singing. Brownie's uncle made him a guitar from a tin marshmallow box and a piece of board.
McGhee spent much of his youth immersed in music, singing with a local harmony group, the Golden Voices Gospel Quartet, and teaching himself to play guitar. He also played the five-string banjo and ukulele and studied piano.
At age 22, McGhee became a traveling musician, working in the Rabbit Foot Minstrels and befriending Blind Boy Fuller, whose guitar playing influenced him greatly.
Real success came after he moved to New York in 1942, when he teamed up with Sonny Terry, whom he had known since 1939, when Terry was Fuller's harmonica player. The pairing was an overnight success. They recorded and toured together until around 1980. As a duo, Terry and McGhee did most of their work from 1958 until 1980, spending 11 months of each year touring and recording dozens of albums.