Local blues legend gets top honor, posthumously

CARRBORO, N.C. — This year, Elizabeth Cotten, who was born in 1893 and died in 1987, will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. 

 

What You Need To Know 

Carrboro’s Elizabeth Cotten to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in November 

Music Make Foundation has honored Cotten with a concert series 

Cotten inspired musicians like Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia 

 

The blues legend is from Carrboro, where one nonprofit is honoring her induction and memory.

“If you don’t understand Black blues and gospel, you don’t understand America,” said Tim Duffy, president of the Music Maker Foundation.

And you could make a case, Cotten is as important a blues musician to understand as any.

“Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan was influenced by her, anyone who picked up the guitar, it was called Libba picking, taught a whole country,” Duffy said.

Carrboro’s Music Maker Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to documenting America’s traditional musicians.

“I’ve always carried a camera, a tape recorder and a guitar with me since I was 15. I’ve never done anything else,” Duffy said.

A days-long festival, called Music Makers Spring Concert Series, honored Elizabeth Cotten.

In May, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced Cotten would be an inductee this year, along with legendary musicians Lionel Richie, Dolly Parton, Duran Duran and more.

“I’m so happy Libba Cotten is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she didn’t sell hundreds of millions of records, maybe a few thousand, but she changed American culture.”

Cotten played the guitar upside down and backwards since she was left handed.

The Rock and Roll induction ceremony is this November. It will be streamed on HBO Max at a later date.