I first heard the song “Peace Behind the Bridge” played by the Carolina Chocolate Drops on their album Genuine Negro Jig. Then, while scouring Music Maker’s website for a track to write about for my Diggin’, that I came across Etta Baker’s rendition.
Born and raised in the D.C. area, it wasn’t until I came to North Carolina for college that I started learning about old-time music – folk, bluegrass, country blues and more. After beginning to work with Music Maker, I learned just how many North Carolina musicians have defined those genres for music fans worldwide.
I first learned about Etta Baker in the context of Music Maker – about how we helped her with sustenance grants, gifted her instruments, recorded two CDs with her and helped her book performances. It was interesting to learn more – like how she had a chance encounter in the ’50s with Paul Clayton while on vacation in the western North Carolina mountains (where she lived and was from). This led to her appearance on Clayton’s Instrumental Music of Southern Appalachia, an album which is often credited with influencing the ’60s folk revival.
It’s cool to see how Music Maker was able to help a music legend and an incredible performer. I feel lucky to have learned about Etta and am excited to continue to delve into her music.