woodyguthrie - Alexis Hlavaty History of Folk Music Dr Carr...

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Alexis Hlavaty History of Folk Music Dr. Carr Woody Guthrie 1912-1967 Woody Guthrie lived through some of America’s hardest times, wrote thousands of songs on anything from union songs to child lullabies and made a lasting mark on folk music and America. Woody believed firmly in the common good of man, saying, “Americans will let you get awful hungry but they never let you starve.” During the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl Woody sang songs that connected with the ethos of struggling Americans trying to survive hard times. As a child, he witnessed his mother struggle with undiagnosed Huntington’s disease, which he himself inherited and eventually died of. Woody Guthrie was an honorable musician, with a keen natural ability to turn the experiences, places, and social issues that he saw into songs; who’s personal life was shrouded by tragedy throughout much of his life On July 14 1912, Nora and Charley Guthrie gave birth to a boy, Woodrow Wilson Guthrie, named after President Wilson who had been elected that year. They lived in the small town of Okemah, Oklahoma, once an Indian reservation was diversely cultured with blacks, whites and Native American. As a child Woody, as he was called, grew up in a musical house where his father and mother would sing to him. His mother sang “moralistic parlor ballads… and Scots- Irish ballads of her parents’ parents.” (Cray 12). Woody loved to experience music growing up, he learned to play the harmonica from a local black boy, George, and when traveling musicians, and medicine shows came through Okemah he was always there. It was through these oral transmissions and interactions that Woody learned about music
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growing up. Performing music enticed Woody early on, singing on sidewalks for spare change to whoever would listen. (Cray 29) In May of 1919 Clara, his older sister, died after being severely burned in a fire that started at home, while arguing with Nora. His mother “was behaving strangely or not paying attention, then finally just slipping off into a private world.” (Cray 18), the affects of her inherited Huntington’s disease were becoming inherent. On June 25, 1927 Nora
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woodyguthrie - Alexis Hlavaty History of Folk Music Dr Carr...

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