Friday, September 14, 2012

Ragtime hero

Charles Hunter, of Maury County, TN is considered by music historians to be one of the founding fathers of ragtime music.  Ragtime is considered an original Black American art, but Hunter was white and, thus, plays a unique role in the genre.  He was almost totally blind from birth.  He made his living tuning pianos.

Music seems to have been part of the family as his father Jordan was a musician with the Sixth Cavalry during the Civil War, and his uncle  was a bugle man with the First Cavalry, both Confederate units.

Charles taught himself to play the piano.  When he started composing, he chose "rags", which were written in early folk style.  His first number was "Tickled to Death" composed in 1899, followed by "A Tennessee Tantalizer" in 1900.  How about this name for one of this compositions:  "Possum and Taters."  Yep, he's on of us Tennesseans, all right.

Charles was born at some time in the 1870's in Columbia, TN and died in in St. Louis, MO in 1907 from tuberculosis.

Oddly, most of what has been written about him has come from outside of Tennessee, despite the fact that he is clearly a part of Tennessee heritage.

Historical Source:  Hither, Thither, and Yon by Jill K. Garrett

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