'Elizabeth Cotten: A Folk Pioneer Who Deserves a Spot

Folk Pioneer Who Deserves a Spot

Credited with

the “Cotten-picking” guitar-playing style — she played left-handed and upside-down — this master’s impact on roots

Meanwhile, her

story is amazing: While working in a department store in 1940s Washington D

, Cotten discovered

a crying, lost, little girl and returned her to her mother

The grateful

mom: singer-songwriter Peggy Seeger, sister of legendary Mike Seeger, who promptly hired Cotten as a

When Mike

Seeger discovered her long-dormant talent with a six-string, he recorded and released the 62-year-old’s

Kennedy, Cotten

became a fixture on the 1960s folk circuit, performing at the Newport Folk Festival, and

Cotten continued

playing live until her death in 1987 — a year after she won her first Grammy at 90

Thirty-five years

later, folk artist and historian Rhiannon Giddens told me she’d intentionally walked in Cotten’

“When I

started getting into music, I learned [Cotten’s ‘Shakee Sugar’], and I also sung and

“She’s been

a part of the fabric of my music [since] I started listening to [folk]

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