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Geeshie Wiley

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Geeshie Wiley is best known for her stunning version of "Last Kind Word Blues," a minor-key modal blues recorded in the 1930s for Paramount Records. Wiley's vocal on "Last Kind Word Blues" is by turns weary, wise, angry, defiant, despairing, even wistful, and is simply one of the best performances in early country blues. Not much is known about her life, unfortunately. According to bluesman Ishman Bracey (who may or may not have it right), she was from Natchez, MS, and at one time or another was romantically linked to Charlie McCoy. She is rumored to have worked in a medicine show in Jackson, MS, in the 1920s. There is also some evidence that Wiley was married to Casey Bill Weldon for a time, follwing his divorce from Memphis Minnie. What is certain, however, is that she recorded "Last Kind Word Blues" and "Skinny Leg Blues" in Grafton, WI, in March of 1930, with Elvie Thomas backing her up on second guitar. Thomas also recorded two songs for Paramount at the session, "Motherless Child Blues" and "Over to My House," with Wiley providing second guitar and vocal harmonies. The pair reunited a year later in Grafton to record two more sides for Paramount, "Pick Poor Robin Clean" and "Eagles on a Half," then both vanished like ghosts into the haze of blues history. ~ Steve Leggett

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