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The Ballad of Blind Tom
by Deirdre O'Connell


Overview - Eventually freed from slavery, Wiggins, or "Blind Tom" as he was called, toured the country and the world playing for celebrities like Mark Twain and the Queen of England and dazzling audiences everywhere. One part genius and one part novelty act, Blind Tom embodied contradictions-a star and a freak, freed from slavery but still the property of his white guardian.  Read more...

 
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More About The Ballad of Blind Tom by Deirdre O'Connell
 
 
 
Overview
Eventually freed from slavery, Wiggins, or "Blind Tom" as he was called, toured the country and the world playing for celebrities like Mark Twain and the Queen of England and dazzling audiences everywhere. One part genius and one part novelty act, Blind Tom embodied contradictions-a star and a freak, freed from slavery but still the property of his white guardian. His life offers a window into the culture of celebrity and racism at the turn of the twentieth century In this rollicking and heartrending book, O'Connell takes us through the life (and three separate deaths) of Blind Tom Wiggins, restoring to the modern reader this unusual yet quintessentially American life.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781590201435
  • ISBN-10: 1590201434
  • Publisher: Overlook Duckworth
  • Publish Date: February 2009
  • Page Count: 288
  • Reading Level: Ages 18-UP
  • Dimensions: 9.26 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.11 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Composers & Musicians - General
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Cultural Heritage
Books > Social Science > Slavery

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

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Documentary filmmaker O'Connell recounts the engaging story of slave prodigy, entertainment sensation and national curiosity Blind Tom (1849-1908). The son of slaves, Tom displayed early musical acuity and a fierce attachment to his owners' family piano, amazing onlookers with his ability to emulate music, dialog and sounds in nature; from age five, Tom was entranced by storms, which he could perfectly mimic, and later was able to play two tunes at a time with his back to the keyboard. Classified as an idiot, yet possessed of remarkable skills (including the ability to perform odd athletic feats), Tom's 40-year career enriched his owners and managers, especially as the effects of war and the opening of northern venues broadened Tom's audience (which included famous commentators like Mark Twain). Tom himself, of course, would struggle under the control of others his entire life, culminating sadly in a debilitating, career-ending stroke. O'Connell's vivid, carefully researched narrative reflects the tenor of the times, the culture of the Old South, the chaos of emancipation and Blind Tom's single-minded devotion to his performances.

 
BAM Customer Reviews