In An Encyclopedia of South Carolina Jazz and Blues Musicians, Benjamin Franklin V documents the careers of South Carolina jazz and blues musicians from the nineteenth century to the present. The musicians range from the renowned (James Brown, Dizzy Gillespie), to the notable (Freddie Green, Josh White), to the largely forgotten (Fud Livingston, Josie Miles),to the obscure (Lottie Frost Hightower, Horace “Spoons” Williams), to the unknown (Vince Arnold, Johnny Wilson).
Though the term “jazz” is commonly understood, if difficult to define, “blues” has evolved over time to include rhythm and blues, doo-wop, and soul music. Performers in these genres are represented, as are members of the Jenkins Orphanage bands of Charleston. The volume also treats nineteenth-century musicians who performed what might be called proto-jazz or proto-blues in string bands, medicine shows, vaudeville, and the like.
Organized alphabetically, from Johnny Acey to Webster Young, the book’s entries include basic biographical information, South Carolina residences, career details, compositions, recordings as leaders and as band members, films, awards, Web sites, and lists of resources for additional reading. Franklin has ensured biographical accuracy to the greatest degree possible by consulting such sources as the census, military registers, passport applications, and other public documents including, when law permitted, death certificates. Information in these records permitted him to dispel myths and correct misinformation that have surrounded South Carolina’s musical history for generations.