“Little” Willie Farmer was born in 1956 in tiny Duck Hill, Miss., where he grew up on a farm where his father raised cows, chickens, cotton and corn. His uncles and father would entertain each other with blues and gospel songs when their work was done.
Farmer picked up a guitar as a child and began to teach himself how to play. His mother and father had differing attitudes about what he should be playing. His mother preferred that he stick to gospel, and whenever she was out of earshot, his father encouraged him to play the blues.
As Willie got better and better, his father offered a piece of advice: “Don’t brag on yourself. If you’re playing it right, others will brag on you.” The lesson in humility was as much an advisory to his son to make sure news of his playing was slower to get back to his mother.
As a teenager, he began repairing cars, and has operated his own shop for more than four decades. On nights and weekends, he traveled and performed in gospel quartet groups and at roadhouse music halls from Chicago to Memphis, from Clarksdale, Miss., to Montgomery, Ala.
In 2017, the Austrian blues label Wolf released Farmer’s first album, “I’m Coming Back Home.” On it, he alternates between acoustic and electric guitar, playing a style that closely resembles that of Lightnin’ Hopkins.
How We Helped:
Music Maker has helped Little Willie Farmer with career development by producing videos and helping him get his passport so that he can play internationally. Through Music Maker’s connection with Big Legal Mess Records, an independent label based in Oxford, Miss., he was able to secure a record deal and has garnered coverage for his latest album, “The Man from the Hill,” from billboard.com, Glide Magazine and Relix.