Ida Goodson, North Florida Blueswoman: An Ethnography
Ida Goodson: North Florida Blues Woman, an Ethnography
“Many a night I saw the Pleiades, rising through the mellow shake, Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid. “ Alfred Tennyson in Locksley Hill.
The Seven Sisters lit up my childhood sky in Detroit and when our beloved baby sitter, Lois Carotta took my brother Skipper and me on walks, she would point up near Orion and tell us the story of the Pleiades, seven dots of light in the summer sky. I was amazed to find out that the stars had stories. This story of the Pleiades, she told us, was about the seven daughters of Atlas the Titan and Pleione an Oceanid who was the protector of sailing. The Pleiades were Maia, Electra, Alcyone, Taygete, Asterope, Celaeno and Merope. They hadn’t always been in the sky, she said. Once they were mortals and when one day the hunter Orion met them in Boetia, he feel madly in love and pursued them using his dog Sirius. Jupiter took pity and he turned them into pigeons and they flew away. Later they became stars in the night sky. (Herzberg, p. 132).
This story of seven girls who were sisters was the beginning of my lifelong interest in Greek and Roman mythology. I devoured the ancient myths and came to see them as explanations for the archetypal individuals I saw over and over in my adult psychotherapy practice. Working with people took on a special secret meaning for me. I thought that these stories were about the repeating patterns of family history, of personalities that had always been around. I thought perhaps these stories were invented when ancient people looked around them and described their fellow human beings. Truthfully, I still believe this about human beings.
I knew a family with seven daughters would be a special one. But I hadn’t known a seventh daughter until I came across Ida Goodson and her music one hot late spring day in White Springs, Florida. I was still relatively new to Florida. I was a graduated student in the Social Work program, and at the time I first laid eyes on Ida, (really just the top of her head over the piano; she was a short woman) she was pounding out a ragtime song whose name I do not remember on the stage at the Florida Folk Festival. It was 1983. I didn’t yet understand nor have a connection to the musical community in Florida. I had spent most of my time tending to my son who was ten weeks old when I first came to graduate school, and in the library. I was newly divorced. I was on my own trying to achieve a PhD, a lifelong ambition. But I had heard about the festival and off I went one Saturday to take in the music and have a respite from graduate school drudgery. My son was in a pram and I didn‘t know anyone at the Festival.
Music was my avocation and I had spent five years on the faculty at The University of Arkansas teaching undergraduate social work prior to coming to Florida. But the truth was, I landed in that job only because I wanted to live in Arkansas and immerse myself in mountain music. Which I did for five glorious years. My professorship was always a sideline, it seemed. And more truth here. It was boring teaching social work to undergraduate students. Finding truth here, (for that is what I have decided is the focus of my scholarship about Ida Goodson), making music and discovering music had always been for me, the most interesting thing about my life’s pursuits.
At the time I first heard her music, Ida didn’t hold mythological importance to me. I didn’t know she was a seventh daughter. I just knew she played vigorous ragtime piano. I didn’t know she was still subject to racial stereotyping and discrimination in the 1980’s on that stage and amongst the principals of the Festival. I just knew she loved making music. A musician knows this about another musician. It’s a message that is carried in the rhythms, the cadences, and the tempos of one’s music. I could hear she loved music. I appreciated her but I was not a piano player and I was unschooled about piano styles. I couldn’t yet tell you what ragtime piano was, academically or musically. I knew I liked it, though. And that was that, for twenty years. Until 2007, when I took my second course and hopefully, not my last course in graduate English from Dr.Jerrilyn McGregory.
In the process, I also learned much more about Florida history, and the history of African American women musicians in America which I had begun to study in earnest with Dr. McGregory‘s guidance, as I researched both Veronika Jackson and Elizabeth Cotten and completed my first attempts at becoming an ethnographer and folklorist. And I applied my early interest in feminism to a study of Black feminist theory, an area of feminist theory I was totally unaware of despite my own personal history as a feminist in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan in the 1970’s, until my first course with Dr. McGregory.
Once I began this study, I discovered that I still knew very little about the process of ethnographic research. But after all, learning what I don’t already know is what being a student once again, is about. As of today, I haven’t yet read all the research that I know exists about Ida Goodson and her sisters. For instance, I have yet to speak directly with Bruce Boyd Rraeburn, keeper of The Jazz Archives at Tulane, where I know exists several transcribed oral interviews with Sadie and Ida. I have not gotten my hands on the one other recording reportedly published by CSA, which Ida completed, and which I believe is at the Archives. I have not yet listened to the more numerous recordings of her sister Billie Pierce and her husband DeDe Pierce. I have not yet had conversations with individuals who may have known her but about whom I am unaware.
What follows is my ethnographic study thus far, of Ida Alberta Goodson born November 23, 1909 and her life, times, and music. I have included this introduction because when I discovered she was a seventh daughter, for me she took on mythological significance. I had found my modern connection to this story of my childhood. This was thus why this woman was someone I had to know more about.
I didn’t meet Royce Goodson Johnson the day I first went to Pensacola. She was reportedly at work when I met and interviewed Harold T. Andrews and Norman Vickers in November. When I first made telephone contact with Royce, who was Ida’s “sweet baby girl” (Goodson, 1981)and her third child, she was in the middle of moving house and she didn’t have time to talk at length. She asked if I had read the record jacket notes by Doris Dyen. I had. But once I journeyed to Pensacola and met Harold and Norm, I felt as though I was beginning to make some progress in piecing together the facts about Ida Goodson in the three and a half months of my study of her. It is a process I have taken to with great enthusiasm and joy I think, because as a psychotherapist of thirty five years experience, I am still fascinated and inspired to know individual human beings thoroughly, every day. As “persons in situation” I have been taught to understand what human beings are about. Herein is my study thus far, of this seventh daughter of Wiregrass country origins studied in the context of what it was like to be a Black woman musician in the early twentieth century of northwest Florida from a family of seven daughters.
The L & N railroad line expanded into Florida in the late nineteenth century. In 1883, the L&N completed a 170-mile rail link from Pensacola to Chattahoochee, Florida.
There was great stores of cotton, mahogany, tobacco, pine lumber, and turpentine to haul out of the Florida panhandle as America grew and its need for natural resources mushroomed. Until that time the principle means of transportation in the panhandle was riverboats, horse and buggy or mule teams, and walking. Wiregrass country was an untapped wilderness of natural resources. Great pine forests stretched for miles. The bays and estuaries teemed with fish. Cotton was still king but the Civil War was over, plantations were broken up and Black slaves were free from manumission to fashion lives more in keeping with the universal forces of the human spirit, to make families, to stay together and to seek a better life using their talents.
Religious and spiritual beliefs and practices had soothed human suffering for eons prior to this point in history. Only the metaphor for deliverance changed. In the music in this country, you could see it become a “train to glory“ (Solomon, 1991) as tracks were carved out of swampy wilderness and railroads began to crisscross the land. Why the train became such a powerful symbol of deliverance in spiritual music remains a mystery. Riverboats never achieved this feat. Neither did the horse and buggy. Hymns such as “When The Train Rolls up” (see appendix) described the means for reaching heaven at the end of earthly journey.
I may be blind
en I can not see,
But I’ll meet you at the station
When the train rolls up”
In reality, the railroads brought industry and jobs to the panhandle. In this context we can begin to imagine Ida Goodson’s early life. Her father Hamilton Madison Goodson secured a job with the L&N Railroad somewhere near River Junction in Gadsden county around the turn of the century. Gadsden county was a big producer of tobacco so many people in the county worked on tobacco farms or plantations before they began to break up. He was reportedly a porter and his run was from River Junction to Pensacola (Dyen, 1981). He and his family lived next in Marianna. Although I do not yet know many facts about his early life, I can imagine that he was an intelligent man who understood how to take advantage of the opportunities afforded him. He found a woman with education who was reportedly a school teacher and who played piano, as did he. How they learned to play I still do not know, but they both must have had musical gifts. Why had they been living in Gadsden county? Were their own parents slaves? They could have been since the timing is about right. How did they come to be in River Junction? How did they meet? These questions came to me one by one. Many are as yet, unanswered.
Madison had married (whether formally or informally I do not know) a woman named Sara Jenkins (as per Doris Dyen’s interview with Ida in 1981) and they began having daughters. However, in another source I uncovered some conflicting information about her parents. In Florida’s Panhandle Life an article by Lester Riley names her mother as Sara White Goodson. He notes that her mother died in 1921 and her father died in 1927. He says at twenty one Ida had a day job at the Burgoyne Lumber & Hardware Co. in Pensacola. Such discrepancies in my data collection sources make me realize how much room for error exists in the process of collecting information from various sources.
At any rate, Madison decided to move his family to Pensacola by 1909 when his last daughter was born. All the other daughters were born in Gadsden County. In 1927, The L&N passenger depot was at Alcanez and Wright Streets on what was once the original wharf of Pensacola. The L&N roundhouse was at 10th and Wright Street. I visited the original passenger depot with Norm Vickers. It is fully restored now and houses a hotel and many historic photographs. The family lived according to Ida, in the four hundred block of Terragona Street, within walking distance of the station and in what was reportedly a largely African American neighborhood. Ida mentions the Tanyard, in her discussion with Dyen in 1981 and notes that they did not live in this neighborhood, which was renowned for its Creole population. It was southwest of her neighborhood and nearer to the original Pensacola wharf. The family home has since been razed to make way for I110 north. A business and parking lot now sits at the site which is almost under the expressway. Royce said a family home was in the fourteen hundred block of Terragona.
Pensacola in 1909 was booming. The lumber and turpentine industry, the movement of cotton and other raw materials and the natural harbor of Pensacola had made the city a major port town. In the year Ida was born, the docks were lined with three masted schooners which were the principle means of moving natural resources from the L&N railroad to other parts of Florida and the Gulf Coast. There were some Ford automobiles on the dirt streets and the trolley cars had been running since 1906 in the downtown. They ran until 1932. The churches of Pensacola were numerous and Madison is reported to have become a deacon at Mount Olive Baptist church a few blocks from his family home. They were a solidly middle class Black family for that period of time. This can only mean that both Madison and Sara were intelligent, hardworking, and intent on raising religiously trained young ladies. The girls may have attended one of the segregated schools for Black children at that time but I am not yet sure exactly where they attended school. This home had a piano, Ida says in her interview for the Florida Folklife record and it was a focal point for the Goodson sisters.
The most widely circulated story about the girls and their piano playing at home which I read in several spots and which Royce also related to me was that they would play religious music when their parents were home to listen and then when they went, out the girls would play ragtime, and other secular styles and post a lookout to watch for when a parent would come down the street. At that point they would launch back into something acceptable such as “What a friend we had in Jesus.“ I remembered Elizabeth Cotten telling a similar story about her own music and laughed to think that girls had to hide their forays into the wider world, even then. Who among us baby boomers didn’t have parents who disliked our buddy Holly, Elvis, and Bob Dylan records?
My imagination about Ida’s mother’s early history was fired by a comment made by Charles Chamberlain in his musical presentation of the life and music of the Goodson sisters. He says Ida’s paternal grandfather lived in River Junction and was reportedly a Cherokee with a long dark braid who owned a parrot. This parrot would yell ”Get outta my garden, get outta my garden” when someone would approach the yard. Chamberlain also said the parrot would say, “Go get a cord a wood”, and sometimes visitors would then bring a cord of wood to their grandfathers home, in confusion.
Chamberlain also says that according to Sadie and Ida, Sara was from Marianna. He further states in his 2002 presentation that the Sadie said her mother had Spanish relatives. In apparent contradiction to this, Ida says in her interview for her Folklife record jacket that her mother had come originally from Georgia. The family was of tri-racial origins it would seem, from this information. I filed this fact away in my mind and resolved to think more about its meaning later.
Then in my reading of Wiregrass Country I came across a term I had never before encountered, “Domineckers.“ McGregory said the white community in Wiregrass country called triracial individuals this term, in derision. I began to research this term. The term “Dominicker” a pejorative racist term for mixed race individuals, nevertheless has informed me about racial issues of the time. A dominicker is a type of chicken with several colors but in this context it referred to American Indian, African American and White mixed race individuals who lived in a small community in what is now southern Holmes county and originated before the Civil War ( Hood, 2006 ) . These individuals experienced a great deal of racism and their children attended segregated schools in the Ponce DeLeon community in which they were most numerous because Florida’s Jim Crow laws prevented integrated schooling of mixed race individuals .
The Dominicker settlement was primarily in the southwest corner of Holmes County near the Choctawhatchee River. It is also written that before the Civil War in about 1857 several of these families went west and populated parishes in Louisiana coming to be known as “Redbones” whose origins were kept secret. (Hood, 2006). I researched the Dominickers because I had not heard the term prior to reading Wiregrass Country. But extant descriptions of the Goodson family lineage do not make reference to this group of individuals, and the Dominicker’s Indian ancestors were most likely of The Creek confederation, such as Yuchis or some other tribe.
After the original bands of native Americans were wiped out by diseases contracted by the first white explorers, the Wiregrass area was gradually repopulated with tribes whose names were sometimes identified with the Alabama-West Florida-South Georgia area such as the Chatots, Yuchis (Euchees, Uchees), Okchais, Tawasas, Pawoktis,
Apalachees, Yamasees (Emussees), Apalachicolas, Amacanos, Muklasas,
Muskogees, Hitchitis, Sawoklis (Sabacolas), Chiahas (Chehaws), Eufalas,
Koasatis (Coosadas, Choushattas, Shatis), Pensacolas, Mobiles, Pakanas,
Tukabachees, and Seminoles.
Apalachees, Yamasees (Emussees), Apalachicolas, Amacanos, Muklasas,
Muskogees, Hitchitis, Sawoklis (Sabacolas), Chiahas (Chehaws), Eufalas,
Koasatis (Coosadas, Choushattas, Shatis), Pensacolas, Mobiles, Pakanas,
Tukabachees, and Seminoles.
Nevertheless, if Ida’s grandfather was reportedly Cherokee and he married a Black woman. Madison himself must have experienced a particular kind of racism reserved for mixed race individuals. Was his father actually Cherokee? Why wasn’t he more likely to be of the Creek nation, which encompassed the dominant Indian peoples in this area. Cherokees had been a North Georgia nation and most of them were driven west on the Trail of Tears. If he was Cherokee, how did he find his way to North Florida? I recalled an old woman I met many years ago in my own ramblings, in a junk store near Marianna whose name was Mabel McCoy. She was weaving a yellow pine basket and when I asked her about it she said she was Cherokee and had learned it from her mother. She then taught me the basics of basket weaving with yellow pine needles and embroidery thread. So I had met at least one Cherokee still alive in the area in which it is reported that Ida’s Cherokee grandfather resided.
I also wondered as I do with most of the people I meet with American Indian ancestors (including my own son) what personality characteristics might be attributed to this part of their heritage. Mitochondrial DNA studies by Brian Sykes suggest that most American Indian peoples were of Asian descent having crossed the land bridge of what is now the Bering Strait about twelve thousand years ago. Ida herself is quite light skinned, as were several of her sisters. Indeed, Chamberlain notes that when Sadie tired of playing music in New Orleans, she migrated to New York to achieve a nursing certificate and worked for a time in a Jewish hospital, passing as a Jewish woman and even learning Yiddish.
So, I thought, if Ida’s grandfather was Cherokee, Ida and her descendants would have a DNA lineage of Asian and African combination. If she also had white ancestors, as many “children of strangers” did from plantation slave history, she would have been of this “tri-racial” mixture. If her white ancestors were Spanish, her white lineage might have gone back to the original explorations. I think of personality as a combination of nature and nurture. And I think of personality blossoming from the vast experiences of our ancestors. What makes one person musical? What makes another good at growing things? What makes still another explore in restless seeking? What makes one love to dance? We give our ancestors credit for many of our own traits. Is this our unconscious understanding of nature in the shaping of our personalities? What inherited traits informed Ida’s life? We will never know for sure but these questions always swirl in my mind about each new individual I meet. Ida is no exception. I believe that diversity strengthens us as a human family despite the hardships associated with facing society as mixed race individuals. But maybe such private ideas don’t belong in someone’s ethnography.
The seven daughters were, in order of their births were Maggie (or Mazie), Mabel, Dalla (or Della), Sadie, Edna, Wilhelmina (Billie) and Ida. Ida has said she learned to play watching and listening to her three next oldest sisters, who all had musical careers of one sort or another. She even demonstrates on her Folklife Project album how she learned one and two finger blues playing when she was very young. The musical lives of her sisters is also varied and extensive.
I think Ida’s future course was most likely defined first by the death of her mother in 1921 when she was about twelve. We all don’t know when “old death” will call us home but the universal knowledge about how other’s deaths change us irrevocably is at the heart of our shared humanity. Ida became a motherless child at that tender age. Her father was still alive but he was frequently away on the railroad. One by one her sisters had died or left home. According to Dyen, she and her sisters worked for and were cared for by a white landlady named Dora Talley who had a boarding home (Dyen, liner notes, 1982).
By 1926 or 1927, her father had died along with her two eldest sisters (Dyen, liner notes). Who was left to support this family? The answer is no one. Then one by one, Sadie, Edna, Wilhelmina and Ida left the boarding house to make grownup lives. Sadie was the first, then Edna, Wilhelmina and lastly Ida.
When her father passed away, Ida was only sixteen years old at this point in time. It was the height of the roaring twenties and she was an orphan. But she could play piano, she was known as “one of the Goodson sisters” who were already known to the musical world of Pensacola as skilled piano players and musicians of all sorts had been troubadours in each century for eons. In this century they traveled the Gulf Coast Highway with medicine shows, minstrel and vaudeville shows, circuses, and played the turpentine camp jooks, the clubs, hotels, and halls that sprung up in boom towns like Pensacola. The sisters were readily called upon to play piano for many traveling musical groups and both Sadie and Billie were said to have played for Bessie Smith before Ida did as well.
In a pinch, it became known that a Goodson sister could play piano for a traveling show. And who was there to stop the girls from taking this direction with their music? Their beloved religious and proper parents were dead. Ida went to work first for The Mighty Wiggle Carnival. She was all of eighteen and during that year she also had her first child.
Ida had four children in all, Theodora b. 1927, Danny b. 1936, Royce b. 1946 and Sammy, b.1951. She says at the time of her interview with Dyen that Theodora had been up north for about forty years and had seven children of her own and Danny was living in Pittsburgh. Danny graduated from Booker T. Washington High School, where Harold Andrews was a music and biology teacher. Sammy had his own band in Atlanta called “Arson” in 1981 and he was proficient on drums, sax, trumpet, and trombone. Royce was her sweet baby girl and she grew up to have five children of her own. She was living in California at the time of this interview and Ida recalled receiving a gift basket from her which she cherished. She also sounded as though she felt most cherished by Royce and indeed, Royce paid for her gravestone, which I learned from the Escambia County Vital Statistics Office and the Holy Cross Cemetery. Royce is now in Pensacola and when I spoke briefly to her for the first time she made a reference to her grandchildren as well.
Children will often curtail your wandering ways if you are a traveling musician and it appears as though Ida sought work in and around Pensacola for the rest of her life at least in part, to raise her children and to provide them with a stable upbringing, at which she evidently succeeded.
Their was a great deal of diversity in the venues for music in this era as humans sought novelty, entertainment, and respite from back-breaking work The Circus was one of those diversions. The Mighty Wiggle Carnival was a circus. According to Paul
Oliver in Songsters and Saints,
“Traveling minstrel, carnival and circus shows enabled people even in the smallest townships and remoter rural areas to hear the current songs of the day as well as older favorites of the minstrel tradition and from the ragtime era.” p 81.
Edna had first played for this circus as had Wilhelmina and both were reported to have toured Florida with it. Ida inherited the job when her sisters went on to other venues, out of town. This is how Ida must have first been exposed to the wider world of music, beyond what her talented sisters brought into their home before the family dispersed. But she has said she never toured far from Pensacola until late in her life. So she only played for this circus when it was in or near her town. Another one of her early venues was The Belmont Street which was at 119 East Belmont Street. This area of the city was the Black merchants area and it thrived with prosperous Black owned businesses in the 20’s and 30’s.
White women had only won the vote in 1923 and Black women would be many years behind them in winning these important symbols of freedom. They were domestics, they taught in black schools if they were teachers, they were midwives or nurses and not much else was open to any women as a means of support, let alone Black women. A skill like music opened doors and created better opportunities to make a living for Black women and many were already at it. But Ida was by then also a mother. My need to speak with Royce is still quite urgent, I thought at this point. But how could I ask such delicate questions as the ones I had in mind regarding Ida‘s love life and marital history? I felt this part of her history was crucial in understanding forces which directed her choice as a musician to stay in and around Pensacola for most of her life. Her other sisters hadn’t done this. They scattered to the four winds as musicians. Ida was so gifted, without reading music she could hear a piece once and reproduce it on the piano. She could change the tempo, or metre and change the sound of a spiritual song. Because she stayed in Pensacola her entire life, her musical audience was limited and her talent was never nationally or internationally recognized.
The Importance of Dance and Dance Music
Throughout Ida’s interview she has emphasized that she played for dancers in the clubs, halls, and jooks that were her early venues. She played many waltzes for her white audiences all through her career. But she was a child of the roaring twenties and dancing was a highly valued pastime and a developed art form. Ida mentions the Charleston. Other dances associated with the African American tradition included “cutting the pigeon wing”, “buck dancing” and “knocking the back step”. There were also jubas, shuffles, and jigs. (Winans, 1990). Cakewalks were popular. I also discovered that while Ida referred to this dancing style in passing, it had its origins in the African American slave community as a parody of white slave owners (retrieved Dec.9, 2007,htttp://cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/cakewalks.php. Music to dance the Cakewalk by was syncopated. Syncopation figured largely in Ida’s early ragtime style and she adapted it to her spiritual music as well when she played spiritual music with an up tempo. (expand)
In the process of inquiry, I was told by a lady who answered phones for the Mount Olive Baptist Church that Harold Andrews was still alive and she gave me his phone number. I knew that Harold had played on Ida’s only recording but I was not aware of how influential he was in the Pensacola community, both in terms of his music and with regard to his many accomplishments. I decided he deserved a section of his own in this paper.
When I decided to contact the Jazz Society of Pensacola to see if I could get some informant information, a jazz enthusiast, player and past president Norm Vickers contacted me. He was very helpful and when I told him I intended to come over to Pensacola and visit the gravesite, he offered to meet me and to help me out. To this point I had spent hours in the State Archives and in the State Library but I was eager to interview live informants. What followed was a full day of activities with Dr. Vickers.
I met with Dr. Vickers at the Holy Cross Cemetery. With some help from the cemetery attendant, we located the gravestone. Dr. Vickers also showed my GG Grice’s gravestone. Grice was a noted Pensacola jazz musician. We then went on to the nursing home which he said Harold was staying in because he had become infirm and his wife could no longer care for him at home. They told us Harold was at Baptist Hospital. Harold was asleep during our first trip to the hospital. We decided to visit him later that day when he might be more alert.
We then went to lunch at a downtown café which supports local jazz musicians. He also introduced me to the general manager of the Seville Quarter, Jack Williams. The JSOP was having a monthly Jazz Gumbo there Monday night and he suggested I attend. We talked extensively about my research and Dr. Vickers own involvement in jazz music and historical research. Dr. Vickers plays jazz harmonica and visits Harold on a regular basis at the nursing home. His wife is President of the Pensacola Historical Society and he is a retired physician with an interest in historical research. He is a very energetic man and he took me all over town to see various landmarks he thought I might be interested in. We visited the original L&N train depot. This depot has been enlarged and gentrified. We looked at historical Pensacola photographs in the depot. He took me by the corner on street where Ida’s home was. The home is now gone and a business backs ups to the I110 expressway which cut through this neighborhood and signaled the demise of Ida’s family home. We then went to the offices of the JSOP and viewed portions of the video completed in 2002 which was a retrospective of Ida Goodson which Charles Chamberlain and Bruce Boyd Braeburn had produced. He arranged to have it digitized and sent to me in support of my research. I also visited the Pensacola Public Library.
We then returned to the hospital and Harold was awake. He was being visited by two of his grandchildren who allowed me to converse with Harold. He is ninety one years old and is quite frail but he was alert and delighted to have visitors. I did not take notes during this conversation as I wanted to be unobtrusive and not tire Harold out.
He told me he had taught at Booker T. Washington High School for thirty five years. He taught biology, was director of the Marching Band and taught music as well. Booker T. Washington High school was first opened in 1916 as a segregated black school and remained that way until 1970. He was divorced from his first wife who didn’t like his music and found a woman whom he has been married to for over sixty years. His granddaughter said she was an energetic woman who did yoga and could put her legs over her head!
His grandson also said Harold had a very extensive jazz library in his house which was legendary among jazz musicians. I also learned from an article in the State Archives file about Harold and Wally Mercer that he was in a band at Tuskegee Institute called The Royal Syncopators. He began piano and violin lessons when he was six years old but his favorite is the bass fiddle. He said in this article it was like holding someone close to you when you played it and he liked that. He is said to have played nine years in a band with Ida. Surely, the gigs he arranged helped to anchor Ida’s musical life in Pensacola, along with her need to raise her children.
Harold was a member and leader in a club called The Royal Entertainers in Pensacola.
This was a group of about fifteen male musicians which grew to 30 and Ida was inducted as a member when the club began to open up to women. They met to drink and socialize at 3221 North Alcaniz St. This club was also instrumental in coordinating the first Black voter registration drive in Pensacola in 1948. The also supported sickle cell anemia research, and did food baskets in the community and were considered a social and a civic club. He said of music, “People who don’t like music of some sort are lost!” (Pensacola News Journal, 1981)
Harold thought he knew me and I suggested that it might be a spiritual connection since I had not met him previously. His granddaughter nodded and we all smiled. His grandson was in attendance. He is a handsome young man with a rolling DJ business. He said he had inherited Harold’s interest in DJ work. In the early 1930’s Harold hosted a radio program on WNYC in New York and attended the New York School of Music (liner notes, Dyen, 1981). His granddaughter said she had inherited Harold’s artistic skills and told me Harold had been a sign painter. Some of his signs were still on various buildings around Pensacola. Harold also told me he designed the plans for his church and helped to build it. It is an Episcopal church called St. Cyprian at 500 N. Reus Street. Later that evening I was driving around the historical Black business district which is bounded by La Rua on the east side and ran right into the church. Although it was night, I took some photographs and I have included them in my research.
Telephone Conversation with Royce Goodson Johnson 12-10-07
I had some initial difficulty connecting with Royce Goodson Johnson. She was moving her home and her life was in a temporary upheaval. Then she returned my call from her new telephone. Royce was born in 1946. She confirmed that her grandfather’s name was Hamilton Madison Goodson and that he had a Cherokee father. Sara, his wife had Native American, white and African American relatives. Danny was born in 1936, Royce was born in 1946, and her youngest brother was born in 1951. Ida had birthed children beginning in 1927 and ended her birthing years in 1951!
Royce said that her mother had Alzheimer’s disease in her last years and that she had lived with Royce who was her caregiver for her last five years and that Ida had died in her home. I remembered that Norm Vickers had told me that once near the end of her life he had picked Ida up for a performance and when he returned her to her home she didn’t have her key. Ida told him she could get one from the neighbor who it turned out, had been deceased for several years. She couldn’t get back into her home and Norm had left her with a neighbor. Royce also said that Theodora was estranged from the rest of the siblings and that it had something to do with difficulties with Ida near the end of her life. She wasn’t sure where Theodora was.
Royce also told me that Theodora’s father and Ida did not stay together and that Ida was raising Theodora by herself. She told me that her own father’s name was Roy L. Thomas and confirmed that the headstone I had seen next to Ida‘s with his name on it was indeed her father. I believe he is also Danny’s father but I am not sure about whether he was Sammy’s father. Royce’s father was not a musician but was an aircraft mechanic who had worked at the Pensacola Navy base nearby.
Royce also told me she had gone to Booker T. Washington High School and that she had had Harold Andrews as a music teacher. She played clarinet at that time. She has also played organ but wasn’t playing anything currently. She sang in some church choirs as a younger woman. She said her mother loved to have her singing with her and encouraged it. Royce gave me the impression that Ida took great pleasure in her as a girl generally I thought she was very proud of Sammy, Danny and Royce from the ways she spoke about them in the Dyen interviews. Danny went to the University of Pennsylvania and he lives in Pittsburgh. He had also just had some surgery and was convalescing. Sammy went to FAMU.
She said Ida had gone through fourth or fifth grade but she couldn’t recall the name of her school. Since the Jim Crow laws were in effect at that time, I said she must have gone to one of the private African American schools for younger children. I had seen some photographs of children in several of the better known schools and made a mental note to return to the State Library to review them.
She said that she had arranged for the burial of several of her relatives around Ida in the Holy Cross Cemetery but that she couldn’t afford to buy everyone a headstone as yet so several were unmarked graves. She said her stepmother was buried there so apparently her father had remarried. She told me she had an aunt by the name of Lucille Wineglass and that she also had several other aunts. Edna, an aunt, and her stepmother were evidently buried at Holy Cross Cemetery. Royce seems to have been the daughter who was not only caregiver to her mother in her last years but the family member most interested in arranging for the various family members to be buried near one another. She was listed as having bought and paid for Ida’s burial and headstone according to the cemetery records. Both her grandparents were buried in Pensacola cemeteries but she wasn’t sure where they were and would try to find out for me. She thought they were old city cemeteries.
Royce herself had a brain aneurysm several years ago and had had brain surgery.
She had no sense of taste, she said, and she had some trouble remembering things and my questions were challenging her to remember things she had some trouble calling forth from her memory but offered to have Danny fax some of the family information to my office. Royce turned away from the Baptist church and became a Catholic saying, “Sometimes you resist the church you are brought up in.”
I asked her if she was still working and she said yes, that she substituted in the
Santa Rosa schools and also did other jobs for the school system when called upon such as cafeteria work or whatever they had for her. She told me she had won several beauty contests as a young girl and that she was crowned in one contest associated with the Martin Luther King ceremonies associated with naming the Boulevard. I said I had seen an article about one contest.
When I checked again in the Archives the newspaper article I had read was in fact, about Royce’s own daughter, who had won a Miss Teenage Pensacola contest and judging by her photographs Angela Yvette Johnson is a real beauty. Royce has five children in all. One daughter lives in Jacksonville and is a nurse practitioner. She has two sons and another daughter in Pensacola and her other daughter lives nearby in Pace. All of her children were born at home and she was attended by a midwife she referred to as Sister Fannie Mae Leggamy. She described herself as the family “peacekeepr” and that her mother Ida was also like that. She has been divorced for twenty years and felt that she would not ever remarry.
After this conversation I returned to the State Archives to reread the materials in the Ida Goodson file associated with the Folklife Archives. I reread everything I had read early in the beginning of my research and I found that it made much more sense because I was able to integrate the material in the transcribed interviews into my growing knowledge of Ida and her life. I reread the material piecing together in my mind more of Ida’s history.
Ida never drove an automobile so Royce often drove her to gigs. She drove her to the Florida Folk Festival and also said that she loved to play in the alley at the Seville Quarter. The alley is a beautiful hallway with several restaurant and bar venues and it opens up on a courtyard in downtown Pensacola.
Ida said in her Dyen interview that everyone but she had left home by the time she was sixteen in the year her father died. She stayed with a neighbor’s mother. This may have been Dora Talley. She was eleven going on twelve when her mother died. She said her father remarried and died five years later so since he died in 1926 or 1927 he must have remarried shortly after Sara died, 1921. It began to sound as though Ida had not lived with him after that. I remembered the story of Zora Neale Hurston’s difficulties with her stepmother and I wondered whether a similar problem had cropped up with Hamilton Madison Goodson’s second wife and Ida. Ida also said that her sisters left home one by one after her mother died and that “a father is not like a mother and didn’t worry about it.“ Since he was remarried, I wondered if that new wife had trouble trying to become a stepmother to five headstrong and talented young women! The first two sisters Maggie (Maizie) and Della had died and I asked Royce if they had died in one of the influenza epidemics but she did not know.
Ida said she married in 1927. Two dates are given in the extant literature for Theodora’s birth, 1926 and 1927. Ida said this marriage didn’t last and they didn’t stay together. I do not know if they were legally married. She said her guardian thought they were too young. She says she “slipped off” to get married! Ida thought of herself as a city girl throughout her life and once mistook cotton for okra.
She began playing Medicine shows and Vaudeville shows in 1927 and she must have had to support herself and Theodora. She played one medicine show at a Mardi Gras festival in Pensacola and she says the doc sold “snake oil liniment” which was used for rheumatism. The medicine shows were like side shows at carnivals she said. Although snake oil is known as an ancient Chinese remedy for joint pain, the term had a derogatory meaning when it was associated with medicine shows in the 20’s. Ida did not seem to hold this opinion however. She said, “it was pretty good.“
When she began to play in earnest in the decade of the twenties, dancing was very popular and she remembered the Charleston, the one step, the two, the slow drag, boogie and beebop. She remembered a man who worked for the Empire Laundry who was an excellent dancer. Ida always loved to get happy when she was playing and she took her energy from the crowds. She also said that when her choirs were energized and singing with joy, her music would also reflect this quality.
Popular Music of the Time
In her first years playing as I mentioned previously, she is said to have played with the Mighty Wiggle Carnival, a circus that toured all around Florida in the 20’s. Sadie and Edna were reported to have played with this carnival and done some traveling around the state. Charles Chamberlain said this carnival played cities such as Micanopy, Quincy, and further south. Ida doesn’t mention it by name in anything I have seen yet and I believe she didn’t go very far out of town in the 20’s.
I wondered where she first heard the music she began playing in the early 1920’s, away from home. Like Elizabeth Cotton, her older sisters must have brought home many of the tunes from shows, carnivals, and touring troubadours and Ida picked them up
There were several vaudeville shows mentioned in documents in the Goodson folder at the Archives. Florida Blossoms Minstrels were touring between 1908 and 1911. Bill Robinson was likely with this show and he was known for his “buck and wing” dancing but the material I read identifies him as Jessie Robinson. His wife, Mrs. Minnie is said to have sung “Oceana Roll”. This vaudeville show as well as others such as Huntington Minstrel Shows played at the Belmont Theatre which is listed in the RL Polk directory in 1909. The Florida Dark Town Swells played the Hot Springs Majestic Theatre in Arkansas. (I knew the family who managed it in the 70’s and I visited the theatre and hotel were the family had an apartment in the hotel and theatre complex.)
The Alabama Chocolate Drops were touring in 1910 and they played the Belmont Theatre as well. Thus, the early popular music which the Goodson sister’s were exposed to was likely from minstrel shows and vaudeville shows and might have been considered quite racist since much of it was coonjine or “coon shouting” performed by Whites in blackface. Some minstrel and vaudeville shows featured Black performers, however, and banjo was a prominent instrument. Winans tells us that the primary musical instruments referred to in ex-slave narratives in Florida were the banjo and the fiddle…
“widespread black piano playing also seems to have been a post-war development. This is interesting because of the relatively short time after the war that ragtime piano came into being as powerful new black musical form” p 45.
. Chamberlain also notes that according to Sadie, “while their mother sang and performed spirituals at home, she also played old time records of popular songs such as “Home Sweet Home.” Chamberlain, p9.
Shouting, however was as Niles indicates, a well established vocal style of two types, sacred and blues. The Ruby Pickens Tart collection has many jubilee shouts including “The Israelites Shoutin’ in Heaven” with this chorus:
Wouldn‘t shoutin in the heaven
Isrealites shoutin‘ in the heaven
Going home Isrealites shoutin in heaven
Going home Israelites shoutin in heaven (Pickens-Tartt, p124):
Ida also remembered that Prince Morris who had a band and a funeral home in Pensacola used to play on streetcars about 1919or 1920. She also heard music on a record player in her parents home which she called a “grassaphone“ but was most likely a gramaphone.
On The Road as a Young Woman
I also wondered what it was like to be a young beautiful woman playing in carnivals and out of town in rough halls. Ida said many of the halls she played in in the twenties were eight or ten miles out of town and largely owned and operated by Blacks. Some of these were probably jooks associated with the turpentine and lumber camps around the outskirts of Pensacola and I wondered if she had played in the Century area during this time. Royce wasn’t sure. She did say that they had racial trouble in Milton at one point because Mack and The Merrymakers were more popular than the White bands playing and they needed a police escort to cross the bridge there. She remembered that there were guns and that one of the band’s drivers had been in some trouble and had to make a quick getaway. This may have been in the early fifties. She remembered Mack Thomas, George Leech, Rufus, Oscar Barbarino who had a diamond in his front tooth, and a man they called Teddy Bear from this group. She also remembered that they stayed at a lady’s home and were fed but she noticed that the lady’s children were not fed and so even though Teddy Bear filled his stomach good, she didn’t eat much. (Dyen, 1981)
Many of the halls were in Pensacola such as Johnson Hall on the corner of Blount and Alcaniz, and Pelican Hall on Call Street. She also recalled playing Tom’s Tavern and The Maker Bar which was reportedly a White establishment. She said that often one of the band members would say she was his wife and that her band mates protected her. If someone wanted to chat her up , one of them would say, “ don’t bother my wife” and if she wanted to talk to him, she would say, ”Oh he‘s just saying that.” When she first began playing she was often referred to as “someone’s sister” in the band because she was underage. She recalled that women would get jealous of her and one time a jealous wife “threw a brick at me.” Another time she was at someone’s sister’s home and the woman thought her boyfriend was paying too much attention to Ida and threw a bottle at him.
Between 1931 and 1933 Ida began to tour in bands such as “Mack and The Merrymakers.” She also played vaudeville shows at The Belmont and that was a six night a week gig for about twelve dollars. She is said to have begun working at the Burgoyne Lumber Company in 1933 and in 1936 Danny was born. She was by then twenty seven years old. So she had two children to support and I am not sure if there was a man in her life to “hold down the fort.” This was also the Depression and one can see from these facts that she had to work hard to survive during this period. Around 1935 they were playing clubs such as The Macon Club, The Rumbed Club, The Esquire Club, and The Southland Club. The bands would get on the back of a flatbed truck and play to advertise their gig that night. She recalled playing The Dreamland in 1937.
There is a gap in my knowledge about her venues in the late thirties and early forties but she said she played all along. Royce was born in 1946, so she then had two younger children to take care of and Theodora was about twenty years old by then. She was with Royce’s father, Ray Thomas some of that time I believe although this line of questioning seemed too intrusive to really pursue with Royce on our first conversation so I am not sure. But she was likely to be homemaking and schooling the children as well as working at the lumber company during the day and playing gigs at night. She also mentioned that she worked briefly in the home of the lumber company owners, in a Pensacola News Journal article I read.
The Fifties and Sixties
Ida has said that the music scene seemed to change more in the fifties and she thought it might have been due to tension over the question of integration as well as a change of taste. She said many Black and White clubs closed. She doesn‘t seem to have said much publicly about racial discrimination although she did say she was one of the first people to drink out of a drinking fountain which was a new invention when she was young and she didn’t realize they were to be segregated. She says this rather ruefully but with no other commentary about racism. Her seeming silence about racism reflects what I have read about Black women of this era. They grew up with segregation in the schools, neighborhoods, and churches and it was a way of life, as deplorable as it may have been.
She also remembered the shooting death of a school teacher named Joe Jesse who was a music teacher who was killed by a music student. She did not say this was a racially motivated killing but mentioned it in this general context of the fifties so perhaps it was.
Sammy was born in 1951, so Ida continued to have to raise her children during this decade and since they were schooled at Washington High School and Sammy went on to college at FAMU, she must have provided them with a stable life by working at the lumber company and gigging at night for money as well.
By this time also, Harold Andrews was back from living in New York and was very active musically in Pensacola. She played often with him and Wally Mercer and he seems to have provided a steady stream of gigs for Ida at this point in time. She remembers playing with Wally Mercer for $2.50 a night. She also went to New Orleans more than once to visit her sister Billie and sat in with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. She recalls she dressed up and when she saw everyone was casually dressed she went back the next time, “barefoot and in overalls.” She recalls that Billie gave her money during those years but gave Sadie “her old pots.” I have gotten the impression from my research that she was very close to and fond of Billie and that Sadie was harder for both of them to deal with and she got along less well with her.
She often played the Naval Air Station near Pensacola and that may have been where she met Ray Thomas. The bases paid pretty well. She recalled playing a party in Mobile for which she was well paid but the traveling meant she could charge more for her performance. Music was an important source of income for Ida throughout her life and she refers to this fact in several places in her extant interviews. It was often hard work and she felt she should be paid for the work. Having gigged myself a lot in my younger years, I know how hard it is to pack equipment, travel, unpack equipment, tune instruments, play and then pack up and get home. Even now, musicians are not well paid unless they are doing huge tours and even today restaurants and bars often expect to get musicians to work for tips and meals but no wages.
Ida has also said that she turned to church playing at the end of the fifties in part because she “had to sacrifice the devil and give myself to God.“ She began to play for several churches in Pensacola such as the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Mt. Olive Baptist Church where her parents worshipped when they were alive and some other Christian churches. In 1981 she had been accompanying the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church for at least ten years, as well. Many of the stories about her suggest she turned completely away from secular music in a strong conversion but I could see this wasn’t true and Royce confirmed it for me. This kind of myth seems to reflect to me some need by the dominant male research community to see women and maybe especially Black women as having changed their sinful ways through religious conversion. This is often said of Black female musicians and while it is true that many of them took to playing music for the church, it seems to have been a matter of coming off the road to raise children and still having a need to express themselves and to make a living with their craft when the venues for them changed or they got too old to travel easily and be considered ingénues. Musicians like Billie Goodson Pierce who played with her husband DeDe her entire adult life, had total careers in music, largely it seems because being married made you respectable and not a temptress.
It was at this point she began playing spiritual music much more often but said about these songs she accompanied the choir with, “Singing should have life in it, anything dead ought to be buried.“ She loved to play these songs with a lively beat and could easily syncopate a church tune to give it extra life. These were steady jobs and she would alternated churches on different Sundays. She was very popular as an accompanist for church choirs. She said that the choir members did not often read music and the songs would be brought to the choirs by various members and they would learn them. Ida didn’t read music at all and since she said her ability was a “gift from God“ she played by ear exclusively. She was baptized by full dunking in the winter of 1960 and remembers that the water was cold. She also said that “ When you are born again, you’ve got to love one another, because all religions will mix in Heaven.“ She felt herself to be not very racially discriminating and made reference to her ability to accept everyone as they were.
70’s through 80’s
I have a gap in my knowledge about her activities in the 70’s but I know she spent much of that time playing for the churches and probably also with Harold in the Pensacola Jazz Community but by the early eighties she was well known to the folk community in north Florida and was swept up in the folk revival by the Florida Folk Festival community. She had played four times at the Festival by 1983 and said that the 10,000 people she played for on the Amphitheatre was the largest crowd she had ever played for. She received the Florida Heritage Award in 1987.
I was told by someone who shall remain anonymous that she was subjected to some
racist treatment at her first festival by the then grand dame of the festival Thelma Boltin. Nevertheless, she was a great crowd pleaser and the State photographic archives have many photographs of her festival performances, especially taken by Larry Coltharp whom I know and whom I expect to talk with soon about Ida’s performances.
She frequently accompanied Diamond Teeth Mary McLain at the Festivals. Mary McLain was also an older woman by that time and she had spent many years as a blues “shouter.“ She was from the Tampa Bay area. So Ida was in her seventies at this point and wider recognition occurred for her as it did for Elizabeth Cotten as a result of the growing awareness of the rich musical heritage that Black women musicians could share with the wider world. Ida was finally receiving wider recognition from the folk revivalists for a lifetime of musical performances and her great gifts as a musician and entertainer.
But, for my money she had already proved herself as an incredibly gifted and fearless Black woman who overcame the early loss of her parents and fashioned a successful career as a musician for more than seventy years on the gulf Coast of Florida. Her star still shines brightly today along with her sisters in the night sky all over this world. For me, the Pleiades will always now represent the Goodson sisters and their inspiring musical legacy.
What follows is a partial list of songs and tunes mentioned by Ida Goodson in the extant literature and the full text of Ida’s Blues
Ida Goodson Sings and Plays Church Music and Songs From The South (CSA-CLPS1015 1973 Danish enthusiast Lars Endegran recorded this while she was visiting Billie in New Orleans, (Dyen, 1981, liner notes)
Ida Goodson Pensacola Piano Florida Gulf Coast Blues, Jazz and Gospel Florida Folklife Program , 1983
St. Louis Blues
Darktown Strutters Ball
I love you truly
Baby Won’t You Please Come Home
Body & Soul
By The light of the Silvery Moon
I’ll Fly Away
Oh Mary Don’t You Weep
One Finger Blues
A good Man is Hard To Find
Nobody’s Darlin But Mine
Shake It and Break It
I Know I’ve Been Changed
Search Me Lord
I Can’t feel at Home
You’ve Got To Move
Closer Walk With Me
Oh Lordy won’t you come by here
Nearer My God To Thee
Bucket’s Got a Hole in It
I love you baby, I’m afraid to call your name
Yes, I love you baby but I’m afraid to call your name
If I call your name sweet daddy, I know I will be to blame
When you see me coming baby, raise your window high
When you see me coming baby, raise your window high
Cuz you know I ain’t no stranger, I’ve been there before
I’m low and squatty baby but I shake like a cannon ball
I’m low and squatty daddy but I’m shaped like a cannon ball
Every time I shimmy I’m bound to make some poor man fall
When you see me coming baby raise your window high
When you see me coming baby raise your window high
You know I ain’t no stranger I’ve been there before
Didn’t the moon look lonesome shining through the trees
Didn’t the moon look lonesome shining through the trees
Didn’t my baby look lonesome when I packed up to leave
It’s awful hard to love someone that really don’t love you
It’s awful hard baby to love someone that really don’t love you
You can’t get them when you want to
You got to catch them just when you can.
Bibliography and References
Ida Goodson: North Florida Blueswoman, An Ethnography
Bragaw, Donald H., Loss of Identity on Pensacola’s Past: A Creole Footnote Florida Historical Society: The Florida Historical Quarterly Vol. 50, No.4 Pp. 414-419.
Carby, Hazel V. In Body and Spirit: Representing Black Women Musicians, Black Music Journal, Vol 11, No 2 (Autumn, 1991), pp. 177-192.
Chamberlain, Charles, "The Goodson Sisters: The Essential Role of Female Pianists in New Orleans Jazz,” Louisiana Cultural Vistas, Fall 2002 “
Chamberlain, Charles, "The Goodson Sisters: Women Pianists and the Function of Gender in the Jazz Age,” The Jazz Archivist. vol. 15 (2001)
Colburn, David R. & Landers, Jane L. The African American Heritage of Florida, 1995. University Press of Florida: Gainesville.
Davis, Angela Blues Legacies and Black Feminism, 1998. New York, Random House, Inc. Vintage Books. Pp.6-7, p. 126.
Egerton, John A Mind To Stay Here, 1970, The MacMillan Company, London, England. Pp. 161-173 (Billie and De De Pierce).
Ehle, John, Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation, 1988. Anchor Books: New York.
Florida Folklife FFF Recording CD-T-80-87 Ida Goodson Playing Gospel and Blues on the Piano. Recorded by Doris Dyen and Merri Balland. Pensacola, Escambia County 8-21-1980. Side 1
Florida State Archives S1627 Box 3 transcription of Interview with Ida Goodson by Doris Dyen and Betsy Peterson , 1981.
Gordon, Julius J., A History of Blacks in Florida
Gen 929.3 Florida G663
Goodson Sisters: Pensacola’s Gift To New Orleans , Charles Chamberlain and Bruce Boyd Raeburn, May 2002. DVD of Performance
Haskins, James & Biondi, Joanne, The Historic Black South: Historical Sites, Cultural Centers, and Musical Happenings of the African-American South. 1993.
Hippocrene Books, New York.
Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida, Boggy Bayou Around Niceville and Valpairiso, 2005, Arcadia Publishing
Housewright, Wiley J. ed., 1999. An Anthology of Music in Early Florida. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
Housewright, Wiley J., A History of Music and Dance in Florida 1991, University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, Alabama pp. 240-278.
McCarthy, Kevin M., African American Sites in Florida, 2007. Pineapple Press, Inc. Sarasota, Florida
McGregory, Jerrilyn, Wiregrass Country. 1997. University Press of Mississippi: Jackson, Ms.
Nile, John J., Shout, Coon, Shout! The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 16, No. 4 (Oct., 1930), pp. 516-530. .
Oliver, Paul, Songsters and Saints: Vocal Traditions on Race Records. 1984. New York: Cambridge University Press
Riley, Lester Florida’s Panhandle Life, Vol. 2, No.1 p 8-10.
Solomon, Olivia and Jack, “Honey in The Rock“ The Ruby Pickens Tart Collection of Religious Folk Songs from Sumter County, Alabama, 1991. Mercer University Press, Macon Georgia.
Spencer, Donald D., Historic Plantations of Northeast Florida: A Pictorial Encyclopedia, 2003. Camelot Publishing Company, Ormond Beach, Florida.
Stanley, J. Randall History of Jackson County, 1950. Jackson County Historical Society, Marianna, Florida.
Titon, Jeff Todd Review: From the Record Review Editor: African American Traditions The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 98, No. 390 (Oct. - Dec., 1985), pp. 495-501
Wild Women Don't Have The Blues, dir. Christine Dall, Calliope Film Resources, 1989, videocassette
Wills, Ora, Images in Black: A Pictorial History of Black Pensacola. African American Heritage Center, Pensacola, Florida UWF Press.
Willoughby, Lynn, Flowing Through Time: A History of the Lower Chattahootchee River,1999. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Winans, Robert B., Black Instrumental Music Traditions in the Ex-Slave Narratives, Black Music Research Journal, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Spring, 1990), pp. 43-53.
Internet Sites of Interest