Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten
(January 5, 1895 – June 29, 1987) was an American
blues and folk musician
, and songwriter
A self-taught left-handed guitarist, Cotten developed her own original style. Her approach involved using a right-handed guitar (usually in standard tuning), not re-strung for left-handed playing, essentially, holding a right-handed guitar upside down. This position required her to play the bass lines with her fingers and the melody with her thumb. Her signature alternating bass
style has become known as "Cotten picking".
Elizabeth Nevills was born in Carrboro, North Carolina
, at the border of Chapel Hill, to a musical family. Her parents were George Nevills and Louise Price Nevills. Elizabeth was the youngest of five children. At age seven, Cotten began to play her older brother's banjo
. By eight years old, she was playing songs. At 11, after scraping together some money, she bought her own guitar
. She became very good at playing the instrument, which she named "Stella."
Around the age of 13, Cotten began working as a maid along with her mother. Soon after at age 15, she was married to Frank Cotten. The couple... Read More