Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten (January 5, 1895 – June 29, 1987), American blues and folk musician, singer, and songwriter

Elizabeth Cotten

Other Names: Libba
Birth Name: Elizabeth Nevills

Personal: father: George Nevilles, mother: Louisa Price, married with Frank Cotten (1907-c1947)

Member of: Highwoods Stringband

* January 5, 1895 in Chapel Hill (or Carrboro?) NC
from c1904 - taught herself banjo and later guitar (played left-handed on a normally strung guitar with ragtime influence), soon wrote her own songs like Freight Train
1907-40 - worked outside music , Chapel Hill NC
from 1943 - moved to Washington DC to work outside music
1945-60s - worked outside music as housekeeper for ethnomusicologist Charles Seeger and family, Chevy Chase MD - small concerts in the homes of congressmen and senators, including that of John F. Kennedy
1952 - first recordings by Mike Seeger
1958 - Folkways 3526, Negro Folk Songs And Tunes released
1960s - small concerts in the homes of congressmen and senators, including that of John F. Kennedy
1960 - first concert at Swarthmore College with Mike Seeger, Swarthmore PA
1964 - worked at Newport Folk Festival, Rhode Island RI
1965/66 - recorded for Folkways, NYC
1967 - Folkways 1003, Shake Sugaree released
1968-71 - worked at Festival of American Folklife, Washington DC
1968 - worked at Newport Folk Festival, Rhode Island RI
c1969 - worked at Smoky Mountain Folk Festival, Gatlinburg TN
1969 - worked at Washington Square Church, NYC
1970 - worked at Washington Blues Festival, Howard University, Washington DC - at Mariposa Folk Festival, Toronto CAN
1972 - worked at Philadelphia Folk Festival, Schwenksville PA - National Folk 1972 Burl Ives Award for her contribution to American folk music
1973 - worked at National Folk Festival, Wolf Trap Farm Park, Vienna VA
1974 - appeared on videotape Grass Roots Series #1-Old Time Music - worked at McCabe's, Santa Monica CA - at Binghampton Folk Festival, Binghampton NY - at Mariposa Folk Festival, Toronto CAN
mid-70s - worked at San Diego Folk Festival, UCLA Folk Festival,Vancouver Folk Festival, Northwest Folklife Festival - at clubs (Ark, McCabe's, the Iron Horse, the Old Town School, Gerde's Folk City, Fly By Night Club - at Seattle, Corvallis, Tucson folklore societies
1975 - worked at Town Crier Cafe, Poughkeepsie NY - at Reed Col, Portland OR - at Euphoria Tavern, Portland OR - at Festival of American Folklife, Washington DC
1976 - worked at Great American Music Hall, San Francisco CA
1977 - appeared on Me and Stella, PBS-TV
1978 - worked at Carnegie Hall, NYC
1979 - appeared on TV Austin City Limits - worked at New Morning Blues Festival, Geneve Switzerland - Folkways 3537, Vol. 3: When I'm Gone released - Intercord, Richie Havens, Taj Mahal, Albert Collins, Queen Ida, Elizabeth Cotton: Live In Geneva 79, At The New Morning Blues Festival released
1983 - Arhoolie 1089, Elizabeth Cotten Live! released
1984 - Grammy Award for Elizabeth Cotten Live!
1985 - watch Elizabeth Cotten: Interview, Fright Train on YouTube - Elizabeth Cotten (v,bj,g)
1987 - Feb. 22, final performance at City College, Harlem, New York City
June 29, 1987 in Syracuse NY

1989 - inclusion in the book I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America, by Brian Lanker

Instruments: banjo, guitar (she called "Stella", primarily a Goya classical guitar, plywood-top Silvertone, Martin D-18, D-28), bass?, autoharp?

Sources:
Wikipedia
Blues Who's Who
Fancourt, Les. McGrath, Bob: The Blues Discography 1943-70
Ford, Robert. McGrath, Bob: The Blues Discography 1971-2000
Leadbitter, Mike. Slaven, Neil: Blues Records 1943 to 1970. A Selective Discography
Booklets

 

Songs (with date of recording and first release):

Ain't Got No Honey Baby Now
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (g)
Babe, It Ain't No Lie
1980s' -- ? - Arhoolie 1089, on: Elizabeth Cotten Live! (released 1983) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Ball the Jack
1965/1966 -- Princeton or Roosevelt NJ - Smithsonian Folkways 40147, on: Shake Sugaree (released 2004) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Boatman Dance
1966.01.00 -- Roosevelt NJ - Folkways 1003, on: Shake Sugaree (released 1967) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,bj)
Boddie's Song (Trad.)
1978.12.09 -- Syracuse NY - Folkways 3537, on: Vol. 3: When I'm Gone (released 1979) - Elizabeth Cotten (g)
Buck Dance
1965.02.00 -- Princeton NJ - Folkways 1003, on: Shake Sugaree (released 1967) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Can't Get A Letter From Down the Road
1965/1966 -- Princeton or Roosevelt NJ - Smithsonian Folkways 40147, on: Shake Sugaree (released 2004) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Casey Jones (Trad.)
1970.01.23 -- Accokeek MD - Folkways 3537, on: Vol. 3: When I'm Gone (released 1979) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Delia
1965.02.00 -- Beacon NY - Smithsonian Folkways 40147, on: Shake Sugaree (released 2004) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Did You Ever See the Devil, Uncle Joe?
1978.00.00? -- NYC - Flying Fish 090, on: The New Lost City Ramblers: 20th Anniversary Concert (released 1978) - The New Lost City Ramblers, Highwoods Stringband (Mike Seeger, John Cohen, Tracy Schwarz, Libba Cotten)
Elizabeth Story, et al., Honey Babe, Your Papa Cares For You
1980s' -- ? - Arhoolie 1089, on: Elizabeth Cotten Live! (released 1983) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Fare You Well, My Darling
1965/1966 -- Princeton or Roosevelt NJ - Smithsonian Folkways 40147, on: Shake Sugaree (released 2004) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Fox Chase
1966.01.00 -- Roosevelt NJ - Folkways 1003, on: Shake Sugaree (released 1967) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Freight Train (Elizabeth Cotten)
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
1964.07.23-26 -- Newport RI - Vanguard 9181, on: Blues at Newport 1964-Part 2 (released 1965) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
1978.00.00? -- NYC - Flying Fish 090, on: The New Lost City Ramblers: 20th Anniversary Concert (released 1978) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
1978.12.09 -- Syracuse NY - Folkways 3537, on: Vol. 3: When I'm Gone (released 1979) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
1980s' -- ? - Arhoolie 1089, on: Elizabeth Cotten Live! (released 1983) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
1985.00.00 -- watch Elizabeth Cotten: Fright Train on YouTube - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Gaslight Blues (Elizabeth Cotten)
1970.01.23 -- Accokeek MD - Folkways 3537, on: Vol. 3: When I'm Gone (released 1979) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
George (Georgie) Buck
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
1965/1966 -- Princeton or Roosevelt NJ - Smithsonian Folkways 40147, on: Shake Sugaree (released 2004) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Going Down the Road Feeling Bad
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Graduation March
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (g)
Guitar Story
1980s' -- ? - Arhoolie 1089, on: Elizabeth Cotten Live! (released 1983) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Hallelujah, It Is Done
1965/1966 -- Princeton or Roosevelt NJ - Smithsonian Folkways 40147, on: Shake Sugaree (released 2004) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Here Old Rattler Here
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Holy Ghost, Unchain My Name
1965/1966 -- Princeton or Roosevelt NJ - Smithsonian Folkways 40147, on: Shake Sugaree (released 2004) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Home Sweet Home (Trad.)
1970.01.23 -- Accokeek MD - Folkways 3537, on: Vol. 3: When I'm Gone (released 1979) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Honey Babe Your Papa Cares For You
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (g)
I Don't Love Nobody
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
I'm Going Away
1965.02.00 -- Princeton NJ - Folkways 1003, on: Shake Sugaree (released 1967) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
1979.03.30/31/1979.04.01 -- Geneve CH - Intercord, on: At the new morning Blues Festival-Live in Geneva 79 (released 1979) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Jenny (Elizabeth Cotten)
1969.01.19 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3537, on: Vol. 3: When I'm Gone (released 1979) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Jesus Is Tenderly Calling
1966.01.00 -- Roosevelt NJ - Folkways 1003, on: Shake Sugaree (released 1967) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Jesus Lifted Me
1965.02.00 -- Princeton NJ - Folkways 1003, on: Shake Sugaree (released 1967) - Brenda Evans (v), Elizabeth Cotten (g)
Jumpin' Jack
1980s' -- ? - Arhoolie 1089, on: Elizabeth Cotten Live! (released 1983) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Little Brown Jug
1965/1966 -- Princeton or Roosevelt NJ - Smithsonian Folkways 40147, on: Shake Sugaree (released 2004) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Look And Live, My Brother
1965.02.00 -- Princeton NJ - Folkways 1003, on: Shake Sugaree (released 1967) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Low Baked A Hoe Cake
? -- ? - Rounder 0439 , on: The North Carolina Banjo Collection (released 1998) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,bj)
Mama, Nobody's Here But the Baby
1965.02.00 -- Princeton NJ - Folkways 1003, on: Shake Sugaree (released 1967) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
1965/1966 -- Princeton or Roosevelt NJ - Smithsonian Folkways 40147, on: Shake Sugaree (released 2004) - Elizabeth Cotten (g)
Mama Your Son Done Gone
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
New Year's Eve (Elizabeth Cotten, John Rankin)
1978.12.09 -- Syracuse NY - Folkways 3537, on: Vol. 3: When I'm Gone (released 1979) - Elizabeth Cotten (g)
Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
1964.07.23-26 -- Newport RI - Vanguard 9181, on: Blues at Newport 1964-Part 2 (released 1965) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Oh Miss Lulie Gal
1966.01.00 -- Roosevelt NJ - Folkways 1003, on: Shake Sugaree (released 1967) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,bj)
Ontario Blues
1965.02.00 -- Princeton NJ - Folkways 1003, on: Shake Sugaree (released 1967) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Praying Time Will Soon Be Over (Elizabeth Cotten, John Rankin)
1975.03.16 -- Arlington VA - Folkways 3537, on: Vol. 3: When I'm Gone (released 1979) - Johnine Rankin (v), Elizabeth Cotten (g)
Ruben
1965.02.00 -- Princeton NJ - Folkways 1003, on: Shake Sugaree (released 1967) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Run.....Run
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (g)
Sent For My Fiddle Sent For My Bow
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Shake Sugaree
1965.02.00 -- Princeton NJ - Folkways 1003, on: Shake Sugaree (released 1967) - Brenda Evans (v), Elizabeth Cotten (g)
Shoot That Buffalo
1966.01.00 -- Roosevelt NJ - Folkways 1003, on: Shake Sugaree (released 1967) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
So Glad Jesus Lifted Me
1979.03.30/31/1979.04.01 -- Geneve CH - Intercord, on: At the new morning Blues Festival-Live in Geneva 79 (released 1979) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Spanish Flang Dang (Flangdang)
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (g)
1969.00.00 -- watch on YouTube
1980s' -- ? - Arhoolie 1089, on: Elizabeth Cotten Live! (released 1983) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Street Blues (Elizabeth Cotten)
1970.01.23 -- Accokeek MD - Folkways 3537, on: Vol. 3: When I'm Gone (released 1979) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Sugaree
1980s' -- ? - Arhoolie 1089, on: Elizabeth Cotten Live! (released 1983) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Sugaree/Banjo Story, Rattler
1980s' -- ? - Arhoolie 1089, on: Elizabeth Cotten Live! (released 1983) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Sweet Bye And Bye
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (g)
Take Me Back To Baltimore
1965/1966 -- Princeton or Roosevelt NJ - Smithsonian Folkways 40147, on: Shake Sugaree (released 2004) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
'Til We Meet Again
1965.02.00 -- Princeton NJ - Folkways 1003, on: Shake Sugaree (released 1967) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
1980s' -- ? - Arhoolie 1089, on: Elizabeth Cotten Live! (released 1983) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Time To Stop Your Idling (Elizabeth Cotten, John Rankin)
1974.11.17 -- Arlington VA - Folkways 3537, on: Vol. 3: When I'm Gone (released 1979) - Johnine Rankin (v), Elizabeth Cotten (g)
Vastopol
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (g)
1980s' -- ? - Arhoolie 1089, on: Elizabeth Cotten Live! (released 1983) - Elizabeth Cotten (g)
Washington Blues
1965.02.00 -- Princeton NJ - Folkways 1003, on: Shake Sugaree (released 1967) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
1980s' -- ? - Arhoolie 1089, on: Elizabeth Cotten Live! (released 1983) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (g)
When I Get Home
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
When I'm Gone (Elizabeth Cotten)
1979.01.13 -- Arlington VA - Folkways 3537, on: Vol. 3: When I'm Gone (released 1979) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
When the Train Comes Along
1965/1966 -- Princeton or Roosevelt NJ - Smithsonian Folkways 40147, on: Shake Sugaree (released 2004) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Willie (Elizabeth Cotten)
1978.12.09 -- Syracuse NY - Folkways 3537, on: Vol. 3: When I'm Gone (released 1979) - Elizabeth Cotten (v,g)
Wilson Rag (Elizabeth Cotten)
1957/1958 -- Washington DC - Folkways 3526, on: Negro Folk Songs And Tunes (released 1958) - Elizabeth Cotten (g)
1978.12.09 -- Syracuse NY - Folkways 3537, on: Vol. 3: When I'm Gone (released 1979) - Elizabeth Cotten (g)
Wreck Of the Old `97
1978.00.00? -- NYC - Flying Fish 090, on: The New Lost City Ramblers: 20th Anniversary Concert (released 1978) - The New Lost City Ramblers, Highwoods Stringband (Mike Seeger, John Cohen, Tracy Schwarz, Libba Cotten)

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