Ballad of Blind Tom, Slave Pianist : America's Lost Musical Genius

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-02-05
  • Publisher: Penguin Group USA
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The true story of a black musical savant in the era of slavery. Born into slavery in Georgia, Tom Wiggins died an international celebrity in New York in 1908. His life was one of the most bizarre and moving episodes in American history. Born blind and autistic-and so unable to work with other slaves-Tom was left to his own devices. He was mesmerized by the music of the family's young daughters, and by the time he was fourTom was playing tunes on the piano. Eventually freed from slavery, Wiggins, or "Blind Tom" as he was called, toured the country and the world playing for celebrities like Mark Twain and the Queen of England and dazzling audiences everywhere. One part genius and one part novelty act, Blind Tom embodied contradictions-a star and a freak, freed from slavery but still the property of his white guardian. His life offers a window into the culture of celebrity and racism at the turn of the twentieth century. In this rollicking and heartrending book, O'Connell takes us through the life (and three separate deaths) of Blind Tom Wiggins, restoring to the modern reader this unusual yet quintessentially American life.

Author Biography

Deirdre O'Connell was born and educated in Australia and has lived in Britain and the United States. Having made documentaries for the Jimi Hendrix Estate and United Nations Environment Program, she now works in news at SBS Australia and in community cultural development.

Table of Contents

Fragmentsp. 9
The Seen and the Unseen
A Woman of Good Breedingp. 15
Every Inch a Southern Gentlemanp. 25
No Ordinary Childp. 33
Unwritten Legendp. 45
Second Sightp. 56
Star of the Musical Worldp. 63
The Showman & the Magicianp. 74
She Used to Wash My Facep. 89
Some Fellow Might Steal Mep. 103
Thunder of Warp. 112
Home Sweet Homep. 124
Fiah Up De Engines!p. 135
Yankee Justicep. 146
Clangorous Agonies
The Great Musical Mysteryp. 159
Heavenly Tonesp. 172
Perpetual Motionp. 183
The Things Revealedp. 197
Fellow Beings
The Last American Slavep. 211
"Tom Is Non Compos Mentis"p. 224
Netherworldp. 236
Thunderstorm Requiemp. 247
Epilogue: The Real Blind Tomp. 261
Notesp. 265
Acknowledgmentsp. 279
Indexp. 281
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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