Secret Sound - 18 - A Strange Mastery (Thomas Wiggins/Blind Tom) 

Espiode 18, A Strange Mastery, focuses on Thomas Wiggins, aka, Blind Tom (1849-1908). Wiggins was born blind and sold a slave with his parents to a plantation family in Georgia. From a young age Wiggins was a musical prodigy, and under the management and exploitation of his master’s family, he went on to become one of the most popular and lucrative performance acts of the 19th century. Retrospectively diagnosed as an autistic savant, Wiggins piano performances wowed audiences by his ability to imitate any music after a single listen, to play three songs at the same time, as well as by his own compositions inspired by the sounds of rain storms, sewing machines, and civil war battles. By audiences and the media, he was called an idiot and a genius, a monkey and a medium, as well as an African-American icon and an Uncle Tom. This episode looks into the lore and reality of blindness in African-American music and explores the fascinating and controversial life of a truly gifted artist, whom many call the “last American slave.” Welcome to a blind faith…

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