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Tennant, Willie

Willie
Willie "Big Boy" Tennant

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Born in 1915, Tennant grew up in rural McCormick County, near the small crossroads town of Plum Branch, Surrounded by music, Tennant’s father played banjo and his brother Mac “Yank” Tennant still plays the blues in nearby Augusta, Georgia. Two of Tennant’s sons, “Little Yank” and Tommy Lee also picked up the guitar as children. Tennant’s repertoire included songs he heard as a youngster from his father, uncle, and a brother-in-law who was an accomplished mouth harp player. Tennant’s music is an especially poignant take on the blues - raw and unadorned, his mournful delivery and casual fret work is wholly unique, yet very familiar to those who appreciate the subtle power of South Carolina Piedmont Blues. He uses a pocketknife as a slide on his guitar. Willie's wife, Josie, is also present for interview. Interview and photgraphs by Anne Kimzey.

Audio   (View Transcript)

bullet icon John Henry (instrumental) (01:06)

bullet icon Learning guitar (01:28)

bullet icon School (00:46)

Tennant's thoughts on school and teachers

bullet icon John Henry (01:08)

bullet icon I'm So Glad (01:03)

bullet icon Playing parties (01:16)

Tennant played music at local parties with his brother-in-law

bullet icon I'm A Poor Boy (03:02)

bullet icon Origin of nickname "Big Boy" (00:49)

bullet icon I Know God He Been So Good (01:06)

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