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Otha Turner

Biography

Lifelong Mississippi farmer Otha Turner was one of the very last of the fife blues players, a tradition that almost never saw recording. His two albums, Everybody Hollerin' Goat (1998) and From Senegal to Senatobia (1999), were once among the only documents, aside from personal memory, that the form ever existed. Throughout his life, Turner, along with a collection of friends and relatives that played with him as the Rising Star Fife and Drum Corps, performed exclusively at cookouts and parties at his own and local farms. The group appeared on a comp titled Mississippi Blues in Memphis, Vol. 1 in 1993, but it wasn't until 1998 (when Turner was 90 years old) that he and his family self-released the album Everybody Hollerin' Goat. A year later, Turner collaborated with African musicians, called the Afrossippi All Stars, on the Fat Possum release From Senegal to Senatobia. Turner died in 2003, just as he was receiving wider recognition through such channels as NPR and Good Morning America and planned to record a third album. His protege and granddaughter Sharde Thomas has since taken up his fife in the Rising Star band.
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