Amiri Baraka: “John Davis’ Resurrection of Blind Tom”

“The importance of John Davis’ resurrection of ‘Blind Tom’ by playing Wiggins’ own compositions, and the historical materials he has made available, in a series of concerts and with this recording [John Davis Plays Blind Tom], the first one ever done, should redraw Wiggins’ image so that he can be seen not just a some “black freak,” but as a creative personality, performer, composer, no matter his physical limitations…The music, played with much emotional empathy by John Davis, puts one in mind of Fred Douglass’ famous soliloquy on some bluff overlooking the Chesapeake, just before he made his dash to freedom. Identifying with the free sailing ships which whip his mind with the contrast of his own bondage, he whispers, ‘You are loosed from your moorings and are free; I am fast in my changes, and am a slave!…You are freedom’s swift-winged angels that fly round the world; I am confined in bands of iron! O that I were free! O, that I were on one of your gallant decks…Go on, go on…'”

Amiri Baraka (a.k.a. LeRoi Jones), Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music