Shelton Powe plays in the Piedmont finger-style guitar tradition of his parents and elders, but it took him a long time to get back to that music.
Powe was born in 1957 in Charlotte, North Carolina, into a family of gifted instrumentalists, singers and dancers. His mother gave him harmonicas and guitars at Christmas, hoping to awaken a dormant musical aptitude, to no avail.
It wasn’t until the deaths of his mother and father in the late 1980s that Shelton became reacquainted with the rhythms and melodies of the old songs his parents used to sing. Picking up the guitar as a tribute to his deceased mother, Shelton set out to learn old-time blues and gospel the way he remembered it from his childhood. Living in Georgia, he immersed himself in the blues scene of Atlanta and soon found what he was looking for. Today, listening to him play and sing, you find yourself back at the wellspring of the Carolina Blues tradition.
He says most of the songs he plays are ones he remembers from childhood. They come to him in fits. He enters musical flashbacks, finding himself a child sitting in a pew vibrating with the harmonies of the elders in his Baptist church, or hearing his mother and father singing and playing around the house. More than a musical fancy, the Carolina blues is a piece of Shelton. His honest delivery is captivating. Since Shelton connected with Music Maker in 1997, he’s recorded his own album “Carolina Blues and Gospel,” released in early 2012, and he has played alongside many Music Maker artists, including Eddie Tigner, Mudcat, Cora Mae Bryant, Frank Edwards, Cootie Stark and Neal Pattman.
Shelton currently lives in Atlanta.