“Blind Lemon Jefferson,” a guitarist and blues singer, was one of the most popular blues singers of the 1920s. Known as the “Father of Texas Blues,” his performances were notable for his high-pitched voice and inventive guitar playing.
Jefferson was born blind in Coutchman, Texas, on September 24, 1893. He was the youngest of seven children. He began playing the guitar in his early adolescence. He played the guitar at a variety of Dallas performances, including picnics, parties, and other events. He met another future blues legend, Huddie Ledbetter, better known as “Lead Belly,” while performing in Dallas. The two men collaborated briefly.
Jefferson was discovered by a talent scout in 1925 and went to Chicago to begin his recording career. He recorded over 90 songs, the majority of which were for the Paramount label. With songs like “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” “Black Snake Moan,” and “Matchbox Blues,” Jefferson helped popularize blues music across the country. Because of Jefferson’s “traditional” sound, record labels found it easy to market his music.
In 1980, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame. Jefferson’s 1927 recording of “Matchbox Blues” was named one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Jefferson was among the first blues musicians to be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980. Jefferson died in Chicago, Illinois, on December 19, 1929.