Coot Grant

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Coot Grant
Birth name Leola B. Pettigrew
Also known as Leola Wilson, Patsy Hunter
Born (1893-06-17)June 17, 1893[1]
Birmingham, Alabama, United States[2]
Died Unknown
Genres Classic female blues, country blues, vaudeville[3]
Occupation(s) Singer, guitarist, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1900s–1950s
Labels Paramount,[2] various

Coot Grant (June 17, 1893 – unknown)[1] was an American classic female blues, country blues, and vaudeville, singer and songwriter.[3] Her own stage craft, plus the double act with her husband and musical partner, Wesley "Kid" Wilson, was popular with African American audiences in the 1910s, 1920s and early 1930s.[2][4]

Biography[edit]

One of fifteen offspring, she was born Leola B. Pettigrew in Birmingham, Alabama, United States.[2] The first part of her eventual stage name came from a derivation of her childhood nickname, 'Cutie'. She began work in 1900 in Atlanta, Georgia, appearing in vaudeville, and the following year toured South Africa and across Europe with Mayme Remington's Pickaninnies. She was sometimes billed as Patsy Hunter. In 1913, she married the singer, Isiah I. Grant, and they worked on stage together before his death in 1920. She married Wesley Wilson the same year,[2] but he surpassed her on stage names being later variously billed as Catjuice Charlie (in a brief duo with Pigmeat Pete), Kid Wilson, Jenkins, Socks, and Sox Wilson. He played both piano and organ, whilst Coot Grant strummed guitar as well as sing and dance.[3]

The duo's billing also varied between Grant and Wilson, Kid and Coot, and Hunter and Jenkins, as they went on to appear and later record with Fletcher Henderson, Mezz Mezzrow, Sidney Bechet, and Louis Armstrong. Their variety was such that they performed separately and together in vaudeville, musical comedies, revues and traveling shows. This ability to adapt also saw them appear in the 1933 film, The Emperor Jones, alongside Paul Robeson.[3]

In addition to this, the twosome wrote in excess of 400 songs over their working lifetime.[5] That list included "Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer)" (1933) and "Take Me for a Buggy Ride", which were both made famous by Bessie Smith's recording of the songs, plus "Find Me at the Greasy Spoon" and "Prince of Wails" for Fletcher Henderson. Their own renditions included the diverse, "Come on Coot, Do That Thing" (1925), "Dem Socks Dat My Pappy Wore," and "Throat Cutting Blues" (although the latter remains unreleased)."[3]

In 1926, Grant joined up with Blind Blake, and recorded a selection of country blues renditions.[3] These were Blake's debut recordings.[2] Although Grant and Wilson's act, once seen as a serious rival to Butterbeans and Susie,[2] began to lose favor with the public by the middle of the 1930s, they recorded further songs in 1938.[3] Their only child, Bobby Wilson, was born in 1941.[6] By 1946, and after Mezz Mezzrow had founded his King Jazz record label, he engaged them as songwriters.[3] In that year, the association led to their final recording session backed by a quintet incorporating Bechet and Mezzrow.[6]

Wilson retired in ill health shortly thereafter,[5] but Grant continued performing into the 1950s.[3] In January 1953, one commentator noted that the couple had moved from New York to Los Angeles, but were in considerable financial hardship.[7] Grant's popularity waned to such an extent that no official details have been uncovered concerning her death.[3]

Her entire recorded work, both with and without Wilson, was made available in three chronological volumes in 1998 by Document Records.[8]

Compilation discography[edit]

Year Title Record label
1998 Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1925-1928) Document
1998 Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1928-1931) Document
1998 Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1931-1938) Document

[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Leola Coot Grant". Alabamamusicoffice.com. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Allmusic ((( Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1925-1928) > Review )))". 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Eugene Chadbourne. "Coot Grant". Allmusic. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  4. ^ Price, Sammy (1989). What do they want?: a jazz autobiography (1st ed.). Wheatley, Oxford, England: Bayou Press Limited. p. 32. ISBN 1-871478-25-1. 
  5. ^ a b Fuqua, C.S. (2011). Alabama Musicians: Musical Heritage from the Heart of Dixie (1st ed.). Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press. p. 151. ISBN 978-1-60949-157-4. 
  6. ^ a b "Allmusic ((( Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1931-1938) > Review )))". 
  7. ^ Levin, Floyd (2000). Classic Jazz: A Personal View of the Music and the Musicians (1st ed.). Los Angeles, California: University of California Press. pp. 169/172. ISBN 0-520-23463-4. 
  8. ^ a b "Allmusic ((( Coot Grant > Discography > Compilations )))".