16 Songs, 36 Minutes

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About Clarence Cooper

Virginia-born gospel and blues singer Clarence Cooper is one of the oft-overlooked figures in the late-'50s/early-'60s folk music boom. He began his recording career in the '50s, with a 10" album on the Elektra label entitled Goin' Down the Road, recorded in 1954, and later appeared on the label's New Folk Sampler with his rendition of "The Erie Canal." In 1957, Cooper was recruited into the ranks of the folk trio the Tarriers as the successor to Alan Arkin, who had left to pursue his acting career following a European tour. Cooper's baritone voice -- he frequently sang lead with the group -- and powerful guitar style greatly enhanced the Tarriers' sound. He appeared on several of their albums, and also served as an arranger on their records. He and co-founder Bob Carey actually ended up as the core of the Tarriers at the end of the '50s, as co-founder Erik Darling moved on to the Weavers. Cooper was there for the tenures of Eric Weissberg and Marshall Brickman, ending up outlasting Carey and becoming the longest-serving member of the group. In 1964, Cooper was sidelined with a congenital heart problem, which he had surgery to correct. He was credited by George Wein, the organizer of the Newport Folk Festival, with playing a key role in selecting the blues and gospel offerings at the festival across several years. And one of his songs, "So Glad I'm Here," was recorded by Carly Simon and Lucy Simon, working as the Simon Sisters, on their album Winkin', Blinkin' and Nod. ~ Bruce Eder

Top Songs by Clarence Cooper