C.C. Rider Venerates: Vera Hall
If you’ve ever been to a bar or a nightclub, you’ve probably heard this song. It’s called “Natural Blues” and it’s the track that made Moby a household name. But as you might’ve guessed, that ain’t his voice. The hard troubles belong to a woman named Vera Hall Ward. Vera Hall lived a hard life. The granddaughter of slaves, and a slave to the Jim Crow way of life. She suffered a lot of tragedy, but found hope in song. And that hope, that singing, is what brought her to us today. See in the mid-thirties, a folklorist named John Lomax was working for the Library of Congress, traveling around the country recording folk songs. It was in Alabama, in 1937, when he “discovered” Vera Hall. She was a cook, a laundress, and a sharecropper. Lomax asked her if she knew any blues songs. No, she said. She didn’t, but her husband did, he’d be back the next day. When Lomax showed up for the next day’s session, Vera’s husband wasn’t there. So she sang instead. Lomax liked what he heard and rolled tape. “Trouble So Hard” from Vera Hall.