Well-known singers like Piedmont guitarist Etta Baker and Winston-Salem-via-Georgia singer Willa Mae Buckner offer strong, bluesy etudes, both delicate and precocious. Johnston County gospel duo The Branchettes provide a soaring old congregational style hymn, "I Know I've Been Changed," that will raise hairs on the arms of even the most apathetic listener. Carolina guitarist and buck dancer Algia Mae Hinton contributes an upbeat rag with "Step It Up and Go," while Roanoke Rapids' Marie Manning provides an electric gospel sketch of the hard scrabble life many of the musicians encounter in " Hard Luck and Trouble."
It is the rollicking "Baghdad Blues" of Beverly "Guitar" Watkins that shows a contemporary glimpse of this music keeping up with headlines. In it, Ms. Watkins declares "Baghdad/Had been hit/You know all these nations need to quit...It is up/ to each country/to end this war..." Embrace more of our region's African-American women and their music with this stellar collection. For more information, check out www.musicmaker.org.