This week of appreciation for womankind would not mean a single thing to me, if I did not make mention of Geeshie Wiley. I said I’d be discussing underrated women, and she may be the most underrated of them all.
Have you heard of her? Probably not. Well, let me tell you what I know (which is not very much, because there’s not very much documentation of her existence at all).
But here’s my take on things:
Geeshie Wiley was a woman that recorded three blues records in 1930, 1931. By records, I mean 78 PRM records. That means her entire discography consists of only six songs (at the end of this mini-rant, I will post three of these songs). But, considering the timeline of American blues music, Geeshie Wiley was an innovator. In fact, I’d say she was probably a genius. And keep in mind, this is all my own personal opinion…
By 1930, there were only a few names in blues music that would go on to become synonymous with the genre. Mississippi John Hurt, Bessie Smith, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie Johnson. The Lomax brothers hadn’t done any of the Leadbelly recordings yet. And it would still be another 5 years before Robert Johnson’s supposed “deal with the devil.”
But in 1930 and 1931, up in Wisconsin… somebody was recording Geeshie Wiley. Her voice haunts me every single time I hear it. And her guitar playing is unlike anything else that had been around at the time. She barely existed, and nobody seems to know who the hell she is… but she managed to record (what I consider to be) one of the greatest blues song of all times.
I would post a photograph of her, but there are none. All that’s left are the tunes. I will post the song that I just called “one of the greatest blues song of all times” first, and then two more. I hope you will listen. And I hope you will use your brain for this music. Consider the history. Consider the fact that, at the time, the most popular/known woman in blues was just a singer… Bessie Smith could certainly not play guitar like this!
Once again, shutting up, better to let the music explain itself.