Gus Cannon – “Madison Street Rag”

You can trace much of American popular music back to the blues. This is most obviously evident in Rock n’ Roll. But in tracks like Gus Cannon’s “Madison Street Rag,” you can also hear the roots of Rap and Hip-Hop. Released on the Paramount label in 1927, Gus Cannon’s gravelly voice sounds like he’s freestlying on the street corner as a passerby looks on in amazement. The banjo pickin’ is brilliant too. Ragtime folk blues goodness with a great lyric. Enjoy!

William Moore – “One Way Gal”

One Way Gal” was recorded in Chicago in 1928 by the legendary “barber bluesman,” William Moore. A 78 RPM vinyl copy of this lovely record is almost impossible to find, but you can enjoy this nice clean mp3. The lyrical twist in the song is hilarious, and Bill Moore’s voice and picking style delivers it perfectly. Like Blind Blake and other folk-blues greats of his time, Moore accompanied himself solo on acoustic guitar, dropping gems like this into a single microphone with no effects or post-production. A brilliant moment, captured forever.

Alberta Hunter – “Nobody Knows The Way I Feel This Morning”

Here’s legendary American singer Alberta Hunter’s vintage recording of “Nobody Knows The Way I Feel This Morning.” Originally penned by Tom and Pearl Delaney, this classic was later a hit for Dinah Washington and Aretha Franklin. Alberta Hunter and her small, smart combo, put this song on the musical map forever in 1921, with this unforgettable take.