c.1902, Marlin, Texas, USA, d. c.1947, Beaumont, Texas, USA. Blind Willie Johnson was arguably the greatest and most popular sanctified singer to record in the pre-World War II era. His forceful singing and stunning guitar work ensured that he continued to sell records even into the Depression. His blindness has been attributed to many causes, the most likely being that his stepmother threw lye-water in his face during a jealous fit when he was about seven. That he should turn to music after this is a recurring motif in the stories of many blind black singers, but even earlier, Johnson had admitted to a desire to preach. Now he combined the two talents to produce outstandingly powerful religious music as he played for tips on the streets. Despite this commitment to the church there seems to have been a secular side to his music, and it remains probable that he recorded two unissued blues under the pseudonym of Blind Texas Marlin at his second session...
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