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Big Bill Broonzy biography



Big Bill Broonzy Born: June 26, 1893, Scott, Mississippi Died: August 15, 1958, Chicago, Illinois Also known as: William Lee Conley Broonzy As a young boy Big Bill Broonzy would return home from a day's fieldwork with cornstalks, which he'd rub together as a homemade fiddle while his many brothers and sisters — 16 — danced to the music he made. By the age of 14 he was performing as a professional fiddler, and after moving to Chicago as an adult he switched to guitar. He became a prolific songwriter as well as a performer and recording artist and was a foundational contributor to the pre-war Chicago blues scene. He was a clever lyricist with a flair for narrative, and is known for having one of the largest and most versatile repertoires on record, from a slick urban blues sound to his acoustic country blues roots as well as folk and traditional spirituals. Broonzy also acted as a mentor to younger musicians, helping many of them secure performing dates and recording sessions. When the Chicago blues sound was transformed by the emergence of the electric guitar, Broonzy kept performing as a more itinerant folk-blues act, paving the way for the future of blues in Europe and the U.K. As he aged he continued to perform, even as he suffered from throat cancer, to which he succumbed in 1958.