This biography of a musical genius who went from slavery to international stardom is a "vivid, carefully researched narrative ref...
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This biography of a musical genius who went from slavery to international stardom is a "vivid, carefully researched narrative reflects the tenor of the" (Publishers Weekly).
Born into slavery in Georgia, Tom Wiggins died an international celebrity in New York in 1908. His life was one of the most bizarre and moving episodes in American history. Born blind and autistic-and therefore unable to work with other slaves-Tom was left to his own devices. He was mesmerized by the music of the family's young daughters, and by the time he was four, Tom was playing tunes on the piano.
Eventually freed from slavery, "Blind Tom" toured the country and the world, dazzling audiences that included celebrities like Mark Twain and the Queen of England. Considered both a genius and a novelty act, Blind Tom embodied contradictions-a star and a freak, freed from slavery yet still under the control 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.
Deirdre O'Connell was born and educated in Australia and has lived in Britain and the United States. Having made documentaries for the Jimi Hendrix Estate and United Nations Environment Program, she now works in news at SBS Australia and in community cultural development.