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The Beautiful Music All Around UsField Recordings and the American Experience$
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Stephen Wade

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036880

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036880.001.0001

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Charlie Butler

Charlie Butler

Call Me to Home

(p.297) 11 Charlie Butler
The Beautiful Music All Around Us

Stephen Wade

University of Illinois Press

This chapter describes Charlie Butler's recording of “Diamond Joe.” Butler, convict number 10636, recorded “Diamond Joe” at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, Mississippi, in the spring of 1937. Two years later, he sang it again into John Lomax's disc machine. At the time, he left only the barest account of how he learned “Diamond Joe,” and none at all concerning how he came to sing. Vanished, too, are most details about his life. Though he appears in the 1920 state census that positively identifies him and his wife, later searches have proven less conclusive. For one thing, he took aliases. For another, he could not write, leaving only an “X” on the signature line of his commitment papers.

Keywords:   Charles Butlers, convicts, Diamond Joe, Library of Congress recordings, Mississippi State Penitentiary

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