Samuel Charters

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Description:
Samuel Charters, born Samuel Barclay Charters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, August 1, 1929 (his name also appears as Sam Charters), is an American music historian, writer, record producer, musician, and poet. He is a noted and widely published author on the subjects of blues and jazz music, as well as a writer of fiction.

Overview

Charters was born and spent his childhood in Pittsburgh. He first became enamored of blues music in 1937, after hearing Bessie Smith's version of Jimmy Cox's song, "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" (Charters 2004). He moved with his family to Sacramento, California at the age of 15. He attended high schools in Pittsburgh and California and attended Sacramento City College, graduating in 1949. After being kicked out of Harvard for political activism, he received a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1956.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Charters purchased numerous old recordings of American blues musicians, eventually amassing a huge and valuable collection. In 1951, at the age of 21, he moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he absorbed the history and culture he had previously only read about; he lived there for most of the 1950s. He served for two years in the United States Army (1951-53) and began to study jazz clarinet with George Lewis, but soon acquired an interest in rural blues. In 1954, he and his wife began conducting field recordings (initially for Folkways Records throughout...
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