The Many Lives of Son House, the Father of Delta Blues

son house

Originally appeared on Grimy Goods. Vintage Gold is an occasional segment that honors the greats of yesterday; in February, we honored Black musicians for Black History Month. 

Among the many iconic music moments on the documentary It Might Get Loud, Jack White’s favorite song stands out. He wordlessly pulls a twelve inch record out of a dusty sleeve and places the needle onto the wax. He doesn’t look at anything as he listens, unless you count a blank stare at the art in his hands. The song he’s scrutinizing is “Grinnin’ in Your Face” by the father of Delta blues, Son House.

White takes influence from Blues musicians in general, especially the golden era of Paramount Records. Prominent in the ‘20s and early ‘30s, Paramount was interested in selling record players while one particular talent scout had the future of music in mind. The young, white H.C. Speir became a popular talent scout among African-Americans looking to earn money making music, and blues historian Gayle Dean Wardlow told NPR that the musicians spread “word [that] he won’t cheat you.” He ended up signing music pioneers such as Charlie Patton, Skip James, and of course Son House.

Read more. 

Son House | more reading: The Blues Magazine | Mississippi Blues Trail | Mississippi Writers and Musicians | NPR

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