Bessie Jones

Decades: 1970s 1990s 2000s


8 February 1902, Smithville, Georgia, USA, d. October 1984, USA. Jones became the greatest exponent of the music of the black communities of the Georgia Sea Islands. The islanders’ isolation led to the retention of many African cultural elements, and there are also cultural affinities with the Bahamas, where many Royalist slaveholders fled from the Sea Islands during the American Revolution. Jones was the possessor of a deep, rich, but very flexible voice, whether singing spirituals, children’s songs, slave songs or (very rarely) blues. She was a moving spirit behind the formation of the Sea Islands Singers in the 60s, and continued to tour after the group disbanded owing to the deaths of several members.

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