North Carolina blues musician George Higgs died on Tuesday. He was 82 years old.
Higgs was known for singing the piedmont-style blues with his guitar and harmonica throughout the state and was honored as an important part of North Carolina’s musical heritage. In 1992, he received the North Carolina Folklore Society’s Brown-Hudson Award, and he was presented with the North Carolina Heritage Award the following year. Higgs performed throughout the region both solo and with the North Carolina Black Folk Heritage Tour, and released his debut album, Tarboro Blues, in 2001 in collaboration with the Music Maker Relief Foundation.
Higgs was born into a farming community 1930 in Speed, North Carolina. He picked up the harmonica as a child and grew up listening to his father play the instrument and sing spirituals. As a young man, he was inspired to purchase his first guitar after hearing a performance by Peg Leg Sam. He played at house parties and competed in guitar contest in Tarboro before singing and playing with the Friendly Five Gospel Quartet in the 1960s.
Higgs worked as a farmer, carpenter, and a father of six children with his wife Bettye in the town where he grew up.
“[For] as long as I’m alive, I think I’ll always have this urge for this old music,” he said. “I know I will. I’m going to try to carry it just as long as I’m able . . . because it’s like history to me.”
Learn more about George Higgs and his legacy here, and watch an interview with George Higgs by Grammy award-winning musician David Holt below.