Although Richard “Big Boy” Henry was an imposing figure at first glance, he was one of the sweetest, most gentle men ever to sing the blues. Born in Beaufort, North Carolina in 1921, he spent much of his life near the coast earning a modest living for himself and his family. As a youth he was drawn to the music of the itinerant blues singers who worked the streets near his home, and he learned to play the guitar.
How We Helped:
Music Maker Relief Foundation provides Richard “Big Boy” Henry with a monthly stipend for prescription medicine, and produced his CD “Beaufort Blues.” Music Maker also helped Big Boy obtain gigs in North and South Carolina, as well as Europe. Big Boy is featured in the book Music Makers: Portraits and Songs from the Roots of America (2004).
Before his first marriage, he made a fair name for himself as a powerful singer and versatile guitarist on the thriving Carolina blues scene. In the Fifties he stopped playing music, and didn’t pick up a guitar again until thirty years later, encouraged by some young musicians who had heard tales of his early exploits. Throughout the 80s and 90s Big Boy appeared at prestigious festivals throughout the states and abroad and issued numerous self-produced cassettes and recordings with various labels.
Big Boy was the patriarch of the Carolina Blues. He was a saintly man, with tremendous compassion and patience for humanity. Big Boy weaves timeless parables into this his CD, “Beaufort Blues”. In “Old Bill” he points out the helplessness we all feel witnessing senseless sacrifice. In “John Henry” he rewrites an age old classic revealing this legend’s intimate character. And in “Vellevina” he lets us know what true love is all about. Big Boy passes the torch in this album to his son Luther who makes his debut singing an original song, giving us a glimpse of how Big Boy might have sounded in his prime.
– Triangle Slim & Tim Duffy