kat himmel | curious thing
history through portraiture

mama knows

mama knows

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#art/#history: when i grow up (unlikely!), i want to own myself the willie mae way. the first person to record leiber & stoller's 'hound dog' - which, by the way, dwarf's presley's more popular version - said of her deep & distinctive voice that it sprang from her experience. an autodidact, she knew damned well how to sing prettily. she rejected it, saying: 'i can't read music, but i know what i'm singing. i don't sing like nobody but myself.' influenced by queen bessie (smith), big mama thornton (born #otd in 1926) always pulled up all the emotion she could muster & threw everything you could handle into your ears. she took on a genre that was dominated by white males & she made them cry...& try to emulate her. life was bold as brass for big mama. years of touring & alcohol took her heart, her liver &, finally in 1984, her life...but you can still hear all of her when you listen to those lungs of hers.

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