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The Traditional Delta and Country Blues

Lillian Glinn

Lillian Glinn b. May 10, 1902 in Hillsboro, TX, d. July 22, 1978 in Richmond, CA, classic female blues and country blues singer and songwriter. She spent most of her career in black vaudeville. Among her popular recordings were "Black Man Blues," "Doggin' Me Blues" and "Atlanta Blues." The blues historian Paul Oliver commented that there were a number of female blues singers who "deserve far greater recognition than they have had", and one of those he cited was Glinn.

Glinn was born in Hillsboro, Texas, and later moved to Dallas. She was first noticed singing spirituals in church by her future fellow performer Hattie Burleson. Under Burleson's guidance, Glinn became successful in vaudeville and by 1927 was signed to a recording contract with Columbia. Glinn took part in six recording sessions, in New Orleans, Atlanta and Dallas, from 1927 to 1929. She recorded a total of twenty-two tracks. Her specialty was slow blues ballads utilizing her rich and heavy contralto voice. Her songs concentrated on the harsher side of life and sometimes included sexual innuendo. Her recordings, including her April 1928 recording of "Shake It Down", gained her national recognition. The musicologist David Evans noted that "it is quite likely that many of Lillian Glinn's blues without any listed composer were her own material. If so, she would be the exception among Columbia's female blues singers." Following this period of activity, Glinn retreated to a church-based life and moved to California, where she married the Rev. O. P. Smith. Her entire recorded work was released in 1994 by Document Records. She was interviewed and photographed by Paul Oliver in 1971.


by Steve Huey
Country blues singer Lillian Glinn was born in the Dallas, TX, area circa 1902, and was discovered by fellow blueswoman Hattie Burleson while singing spirituals in a church. Burleson took Glinn under her wing, and Glinn became a successful vaudeville performer; she also signed a record deal with Columbia in 1927. Over the course of two years and six recording sessions, Glinn recorded 22 secular numbers which often matched her warm contralto voice with slow ballad tempos. However, the deeply religious Glinn soon returned to the life of the church, leaving her singing and performing career behind.