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Blues Guitarist Etta Baker Dies at 93

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Blues Guitarist Etta Baker Dies at 93

Remembrances

Blues Guitarist Etta Baker Dies at 93

Blues Guitarist Etta Baker Dies at 93

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North Carolina's Etta Baker, called the world's premiere Piedmont-style blues guitarist, has died at 93. Baker grew up in a family that was proficient in blues, hymns, and rags. She first gained notoriety in 1956 when she appeared on a compilation album called "Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians."

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

One of America's most influential guitarists has died. Etta Baker has been called one of the world's best blues guitarists. She grew up in a family that played blues hymns and rags. In a story broadcast on MORNING EDITION last year, Etta Baker described growing up playing music with her family.

(Soundbite of previous MORNING EDITION broadcast)

Ms. ETTA BAKER (Blues Guitarist): Myself and Cora - that was my sister - and Daddy, we'd play on Saturday nights for big, big dances.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. BAKER: At night they'd have big dinners. And then when dinner was over, they'd go back to playing and dancing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BAKER: I guess that's what they call the good old days.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: Etta Baker's unique sound was first recorded on a compilation album in 1956. It was this recording that helped shape the growing folk revival.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: After working for decades at a North Carolina textile mill, Etta Baker quit to pursue her music fulltime. She became known for playing Piedmont blues, a style of finger-picking guitar playing that mixes African-American blues, white country picking and English fiddle tunes.

Etta Baker released her first record when she was 78 years old and toured well into her 80s. A couple of years ago she collaborated on an album with blues man Taj Mahal, who was amazed by her endless ideas.

Mr. TAJ MAHAL (Musician): She always keeps coming up with new tunes that she'd forgot - oh, I forgot this one - and then sit down and play you something that you'd go, like, oh my. You know, I mean here's another, here's another old slice that goes back into what kind of music people sat around and played at one time.

MONTAGNE: Taj Mahal speaking about guitarist Etta Baker. She died on Saturday. She was 93.

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