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Williams, Joelocked

(12 December 1918–29 March 1999)
  • James Ross Moore

Extract

Williams, Joe (12 December 1918–29 March 1999), blues and popular singer, was born Joseph Goreed in Cordele, Georgia, the son of Willie Goreed and Anne Beatrice Gilbert, whose occupations are unknown. At the age of “about three” Goreed, his mother, and grandmother moved to Chicago, where he was educated at Austin Otis Sexton Elementary School. From age ten Goreed funded his own education, which concluded at Englewood High School, by singing locally. At age twelve he founded the Jubilee Boys, who sang in Chicago churches, while earning $20–30 singing at late-night clubs. At age sixteen family members decided he would be professionally known as Williams. That year he dropped out of school and was soon singing four nights a week with the Johnny Long band. His repertoire was primarily the mainstream popular songs of the day, usually written by whites for those with a “white” point of view. “Moonlight and Shadows,” a tune from ...

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