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“D” is for Davis, Gary (1896-1972)

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“D” is for Davis, Gary (1896-1972). Musician. A native of Laurens, Davis was a highly accomplished and innovative guitarist who influenced numerous blues and folk musicians. Reverend “Blind” Gary Davis honed his style during the 1920s in the rich musical milieu of the Greenville-Spartanburg region. After losing his eyesight as a child, his grandmother encouraged him to take up the guitar. He crafted his own style and is considered to be a progenitor rather than a follower of the “Piedmont” blues sound that developed in the southeast. He moved to Durham in the 1930s and New York in 1940. Finding a new audience with young, predominantly white fans of folk and blues, Gary Davis became a major presence on the folk revival circuit in the late 1950s and early 1960s, performing at festivals, coffeehouses, and clubs.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.