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A eulogy for Belton Sutherland

Published on September 11, 2018.
By Milan Milutinovic.

A eulogy for Belton Sutherland

Some of the greatest bluesmen leave this world without ever having been recorded. Henry Sloane, one of the key figures in the formation of the delta blues itself had this fate fall onto him. Henry Stuckey, the father of the Bentonian delta blues also regrettably never recorded.

A delta bluesman from Camden, MS seemed destined to have had this tragic fate as well. But he was discovered by Worth Long and recorded for the 1978 documentary “The Land where the Blues Began”. Only a snippet of the great Belton Sutherland made it to the original release.

But some time in the early 2010’s, footage which didn’t make the original documentary began to surface on youtube. His songs were so plainly titled “Blues #1” and “Blues #2”. Sitting on a porch he played some of the menacing sounding blues that ears can hear, in his incredibly original style.

Belton became an archetype for our conception of the bluesman. His likeness and music captured millions of peoples imaginations all over the world.

I don’t know much about Belton’s life, I don’t know how he felt about his music, whether he fully understood the power that he was capable of communicating. There are a lot of things that are uncertain about the life of Belton. But I am certain of one thing, the name “Belton Sutherland” will live on as a legend in the blues for the rest of eternity.

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