(30:14, 27.6 MB; S1576 D93-17)
Florida pianist Alexander McBride performs blues, boogie-woogie, and soul music at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival.
It’s December 12, 2013. Welcome to a new Florida Folklife Collection podcast, brought to you by the Florida Department of State’s, Division of Library and Information Services.
This podcast highlights the life and music of blues pianist Alexander McBride. Born in Jacksonville in 1913, McBride grew up in a household where gospel music was always in the air. His mother owned a piano, which she used strictly for spiritual music. Interestingly, McBride learned to play the piano from his mother, though she didn’t teach him herself. As a young boy, he recalled watching his mother practice. When she left, he would rush to the piano, replicating his mother’s technique. Once she heard her son’s talent, she began training and encouraging him to play at their local church.
Unbeknownst to his family, McBride became fond of blues music, which was banned in their home and church. That, however, didn’t stop McBride. He would sneak out of the house and visit local juke joints to experience blues music, and before long, as a young teenager, he was playing local clubs and house parties. As an adult, he traveled around the Southeast, as well as Chicago, playing primarily African American venues, in time, earning his stage name, “Piano Slim.”
Like fellow Florida native, and piano player, Ray Charles, McBride’s playing embodied both sacred and secular music. Both artists incorporated aspects of gospel into their blues, jazz and R&B music to give their songs more profound emotional power. In the recording you are about to hear, McBride performs a moving rendition of Georgia on My Mind, made famous by Ray Charles. You will also hear McBride’s range of musical talent in Jazz Boogie, as he incorporates jazz and boogie-woogie into his repertoire.
McBride died in 1999, but he lived to see recognition for his contribution to Florida folk music in 1997 when he was presented the Florida Folk Heritage Award. McBride had a proactive desire to share his knowledge and talent by teaching and inspiring others. He participated in the Duval County Folklife in Education Program for 10 years by playing the piano for children in Duval County Public Schools.
We’ll start off by listening to When the Sun Goes Down from McBride’s performance at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival in White Springs. Enjoy!
This concludes the podcast highlighting blues pianist Alexander McBride. Thank you for listening, and please join us again.
Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources: 1997 Florida Folk Heritage Award.