The Most Aptly Named Woman on Earth
The late Precious Bryant might have been the most aptly named woman on Earth. When she sang and played, the heavens opened up. She made people smile. She had an amazing gift. We discovered Precious’ music through field recordings made in the 1970s by the great Atlanta folklorist George Mitchell, who traveled the state to find artists to record. Mitchell encountered Precious in her hometown of Waverly Hall, Georgia, about 25 miles northeast of the west Georgia city of Columbus.
Waverly Hall was—and still is—an isolated community, and Precious was from a very traditional farming family of sharecroppers. Another great folklorist, Georgia’s Fred Fussell, was a friend of hers who took us to Waverly Hall to visit her for the first time. Precious had never moved from the family homeplace, and it was wonderful to meet this humble woman who could play the most beautiful Piedmont finger-style guitar we had ever heard. She could play and sing countless blues standards, but she also wrote her own tunes, which were often amazingly funny and clever, bearing titles like “If You Don’t Love Me, Would You Fool Me Good?”
Apart from Mitchell’s field recordings, Precious made no other recorded music until she was 60 years old and her first album, “Fool Me Good,” came out in 2002. She was nominated for two Blues Music Awards that same year. Music Maker was proud to put out her masterpiece — “My Name Is Precious” — in 2005.
Precious holds a special place in the heart of our co-founder Denise Duffy. “Thirty years working with blues musicians has taught me that there can be great irony woven into the stage names performers choose for themselves — particularly with female players who opt for sugary noms de plume,” Denise says. “But Precious Bryant was different. Precious was her given name, and she lived up to it.”
“When Music Maker first began working with Precious, she was initially reticent and hard to engage, but what we discovered — when we eventually prevailed and got to know her — was that she was an extremely loving and tender-hearted person, even though she was raised in a world of great deprivation surrounded by brutality. She had a generosity of spirit that made her irresistible. She was genuinely precious.”
Precious was born on January 4, 1942. She died January 12, 2013.
Top photo by Tim Duffy.