Blind Willie McTell

As birthplace of the influential blues guitarist Blind Willie McTell, we celebrate his life and legacy at the annual Blind Willie McTell Music Festival.

Born William Samuel McTell in 1901, Blind Willie lost his sight in late childhood, yet earned the status as one of the most accomplished guitarists and lyrical storytellers in Blues history. He became an accomplished musical theorist, able to both read and write music in Braille.

While few of his recordings ever earned mainstream popularity, his influence on the modern music and art scene is widely known. His songs, Statesboro Blues and Broke Down Engine Blues, have been recorded by famous artists such as the Allman Brothers, Taj Mahal and others.

He left the music scene for the pulpit in later life and the details of Blind Willie’s death remain nebulous; nonetheless, his legacy grows exponentially each year.

While accomplished and appreciated in his day, Blind Willie was never truly successful by today’s standards. His real claim to success has been realized in his gift to future generations.

Blind Willie’s influence continues to affect music lovers and concert goers regularly. In 1992, the Activities Council of Thomson began hosting the Blind Willie Blues Festival, now called the Blind Willie McTell Music Festival. For 27 years, the festival brings music, food and fun to Willie’s birthplace in order to honor his legacy and keep the music playing.

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