In post-Reconstruction America, John William “Blind” Boone, an illiterate, itinerate musician, overcame obstacles created by disability, exploitative managers, and racial prejudice to become one of the country’s most beloved concert performers. Melissa Fuell-Cuther’s out-of-print biography, Blind Boone: His Life and Achievements, relates the highlights of Boone’s harrowing journey and also testifies to the struggles of many African Americans during the Jim Crow era. The book republishes Fuell-Cuther’s biography along with five essays detailing Boone’s life.
With the initial publication of the Boone biography in 1915, Fuell-Cuther broke ground as the first American black author to write about the life of a black musician. As a member of Boone’s concert company, she provided firsthand knowledge of Boone’s early years, his career performing tours across the country, and perhaps most importantly, his professional and personal relationship with John Lange, whom many at the time considered the best entertainment manager, black or white, in the country.
The story of Blind Boone is revitalized in this annotated edition of the biography, accompanied by essays describing the Missouri environment in which the artist lived, his place within the landscape of American music, and his achievements after publication of the second edition. Early black performers faced barriers of discrimination with perseverance, resilience, and courage to carve a path for future generations.
About the Editors
Mary Collins Barile, Ph.D., is a theatre historian and author of books about Missouri history, the Santa Fe Trail, and the history of acting in nineteenth-century America. Her publications include The Haunted Boonslick: Ghosts, Ghouls & Monsters of Missouri’s Heartland and The Santa Fe Trail in Missouri.
Christine Montgomery is a grant writer for the University of Missouri. Prior to coming to the university, she worked as the photograph specialist at the State Historical Society of Missouri, where she wrote the Blind Boone essay for the Society’s Historic Missourians website. She served as a contributing writer and coeditor for Images of Our Lives, a history of Columbia, Missouri, in the twentieth century, published by the Columbia Tribune Press.
Published by Truman State University Press, paperback, 2012. 256 pages. 65 illustrations.