Sam Charters – Connecticut to Blues Hall of Fame

While people look at Connecticut and don’t quickly associate it with Blues, we have a lot going on.
The night before the Blues Music Awards, the Blues Foundation presented The 2011 Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. This year Sam Charters from Connecticut was inducted.
The Blues Hall of Fame is a historical record of those who have made the Blues timeless through performance, documentation, and recording. Since its inception in 1980, The Blues Foundation has inducted new members annually into the Blues Hall of Fame for their historical contribution, impact and overall influence on the Blues.
Members are inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in five categories: Performers, Non-Performers, Classics of Blues Literature, Classics of Blues Recordings (Songs), Classics of Blues Recordings (Albums). Therefore, individuals, recordings and literature are included in the Blues Hall of Fame.
There is no submission or nomination process, fan voting or the like for induction in to the Blues Hall of Fame. Instead, each year a distinguished panel of blues scholars begins the process of discussing who they believe should be given consideration for induction into the Blues Hall of Fame. After some back and forth, they vote in each of the five categories. The number of nominees in a year may vary.
Samuel Charters took part in the 1960s blues revival in America. His blues story reached new audiences through writings and record productions, promotion and photography with his wife Ann.
He began his music writing with New Orleans jazz. Blues soon became his focus, and he began doing field recordings in 1955, with his wife Ann, he searched out both the surviving elder statesmen and younger undiscovered talent, gathering their stories as well as their music. Their 1959 recordings of the Texas bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins proved instrumental to Hopkins’ rediscovery.
His book, Country Blues (1959), was a landmark book, pulling together the threads of blues history in both a musical and cultural context. His writings have been influential, bringing to light aspects of African American music and culture that had previously been largely unknown to the general public. His writings include numerous books on the subjects of blues, jazz, African music, and Bahamian music, as well as liner notes for numerous sound recordings.
Charters remained a leading figure in blues documentation and recording, producing albums for Folkways, Vanguard, Prestige/Bluesville, Sonet, and other labels, ranging from traditional Piedmont and Memphis blues to the eye-opening Chicago/The Blues/Today! set of electric Chicago blues, and publishing more books on blues and jazz, along with works of fiction and poetry.
Charters moved to Sweden in 1971 and later began dividing his time between Sweden and Connecticut, where the University of Connecticut now houses the Samuel and Ann Charters Archive of Blues and Vernacular African American Musical Culture.
From approximately 1966 to 1970 he worked as a producer for the anti-war band Country Joe and the Fish. Charters joked at a lecture celebrating his contribution to UConn, that if he spent any more time with the band he would not have lasted.
Charters is married to the writer, editor, Beat generation scholar, photographer, and pianist Ann Charters. The two have collaborated together on many projects, particularly their extensive field recording work.
Charters is a Grammy Award winner and his book The Country Blues was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1991 as one of the “Classics of Blues Literature.
In 2000, Charters and his wife donated the ‘Samuel & Ann Charters Archive of Blues and Vernacular African American Musical Culture’ to the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center of the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut.
The archive contains materials collected during the couple’s decades of work documenting and preserving African American music throughout the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa. The archive’s materials include more than 2,500 sound recordings, as well as video recordings, photographs, monographs, sheet music, field notes, correspondence, musicians’ contracts, and correspondence. The lists of just his CDs fills four inch notebooks. Also included are old posters.
Each Thursady, the BluesBeatNews Blog post the week’s Blues schedule.

About bluesbeatnews52

Blues columnist writing a weekly column dedicated to the Blues. The only column of its kind in a commercial (paid subscription) newspaper. Column appears in the Middletown Press, Bristol Press, Torrington Register-Citizen, and the New Britain Herald. Forcella has served on the Board of Directors of the Blues Foundation representing the Journalism constituency. Served on the Board of Directors Connecticut Blues Society as Past President and Past Editor of newsletter. Recipient: Keeping the Blues Alive award in Journalism from the Blues Foundation. Has contributed both writing and photos to nationnal blues publications.

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