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The roots of much American music lie in the intensely personal art form of the blues. What bluesmen from W.C. Handy to B.B. King have told us about their lives has shaped America's perception of the blues. These life stories provide central insights into blues music and stand as a fascinating form of narrative in their own right.

Barry Lee Pearson has conducted dozens of field interviews and collected over a hundred published autobiographies to present this collective portrait of bluesmen's careers as they themselves tell them: their musical learning, communities, work, pleasures, travels, triumphs, and crises.

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