Monday, August 29, 2016

Flora Molton- DC street singer

I used to see and hear blind street singer Flora Molton regularly during the 1970's and 80's in downtown Washington DC.

She was born in Louisa County, Virginia in 1908, and began singing on Washington's streets in 1937 after her father became minister of the Florida Avenue Baptist Church. She passed away in 1990.

She played gospel music, and considered herself an evangelist, with a religious message. Her style, while not lyrically from the blues, sounded and felt a lot like the Piedmont blues. Later in life she was associated with other noted Piedmont players like John Jackson, Archie Edwards, Phil Wiggins, John Cephas, Big Chief Ellis, and Eleanor Ellis. She played at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and is featured on a number of recordings, but many of us experienced her music on the streets of DC, and tossed some change in her can in appreciation.

I made this picture of her near the old Woodward and Lothrop store in the summer of 1987.

Ms. Molton was the real deal. Sweet music, sweet memory.

You can hear her on Youtube here, and there is more detailed information on her here.

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