About Blues Music: Big Mama Thorton

Born: December 11, 1926

Died: July 25, 1984

Three years before Elvis shook up the world with his version of “Hound Dog,” Big Mama Thornton (1926-1984) recorded the Leiber and Stoller song. The R & B singer and daughter of a preacher performed extensively in blues festivals on tours with the biggest blues artists of her generation. With her deep and powerful voice, Thornton was influenced by Memphis Minnie and Bessie Smith. Thornton lived in Alabama, and her career was catapulted when she moved to Houston, Texas in 1948. In addition to singing, Thornton also played harmonica and drums.

What is Blues Music About According to Big Mama Thornton: She believed that a blues singer should perform from their heart and soul. “I like to put myself into whatever I’m doin’ so I can feel it.”

Essential Blues Music Tracks from Big Mama Thornton:

Ball n’ Chain

Everything Gonna Be Alright

“They Call Me Big Mama”

“Stronger Than Dirt” (album)

Famous for Playing With: Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Doug Macleod, Lightnin’ Hopkins

Well known covers: Ball n’ Chain by Janis Joplin , Hound Dog by Elvis Presley

 

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