A self-taught left-handed guitarist, Cotten developed her own original style. She played a guitar strung for a right-handed player, but played it upside down, as she was left-handed. Her signature alternating bass style has become known as "Cotten picking". Cotten was born in  to a musical family near Chapel Hill, North Carolina in an area that would later be incorporated as Carrboro. Elizabeth was the youngest of five children. She named herself on her first day of school, when the teacher asked her name, because at home she was only called "Li'l Sis.
At age 9, she was forced to quit school and began work as a domestic. By her early teens she was writing her own songs, one of which, " Freight Train ", became one of her most recognized.
She wrote the song in remembrance of a nearby train that she could hear from her childhood home. Around the age of 13, Cotten began working as a maid along with her mother. On November 7,at the age of 17, she married Frank Cotten. When Lillie married, Elizabeth divorced Elizabeth Cotten - Negro Folk Songs And Tunes and moved in with her daughter and her family.
Cotten retired from playing the guitar for 25 years, except for occasional church performances. She did not begin performing publicly and recording until she was in her 60s. She was discovered by the folk-singing Seeger family while she was working for them as a housekeeper. While working briefly in a department store, Cotten helped a child wandering through the Elizabeth Cotten - Negro Folk Songs And Tunes find her mother.
While working with the Seegers a voraciously musical family that included Pete Seegera son of Charles from a previous marriage she remembered her own guitar playing from 40 years prior and picked up the instrument again and relearned to play it, almost from scratch. In the later half of the s, Mike Seeger began making bedroom reel-to-reel recordings of Cotten's songs in her house. Shortly after that first album, she began playing concerts with Mike Seeger, the first of which was in at Swarthmore College.
In the early s, Cotten went on to play concerts with some of the big names in the burgeoning folk revival. The newfound interest in her work inspired her to write more songs to perform, and in she released a record created with her grandchildren, which took its name from one of her songs, "Shake Sugaree".
Using profits from her touring, record releases and awards Unraveling - AXIS:SOVA - Motor Earth to her for her own contributions to the folk arts, Cotten was able to move with her daughter and grandchildren from Washington, D.
She was also able to continue touring and releasing records well into her 80s. When accepting Elizabeth Cotten - Negro Folk Songs And Tunes award in Los Angeles, her comment was, "Thank you. I only wish Im In Love - Joy - Greatest Hits had my guitar so I could play a Paroles Paroles - Various - Romantic Collection: France for you all.
Cotten began writing music while toying with her older brother's banjo. She was left-handedso she played the banjo in reverse position. Later, when she transferred her songs to the guitar, she formed a unique style, since on the banjo the uppermost string is not a bass string, but a short, high-pitched string which begins at the fifth fret.
This required her to adopt a unique style for the guitar. She first played with the "all finger down strokes" like a banjo. Her signature alternating bass style is now known as "Cotten picking". Her fingerpicking techniques influenced many other musicians.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. American blues and folk musician, singer and songwriter. Blues: A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger.
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4th ed. Federal Census, Chapel Hill. The Attic. Retrieved July 17, The Remarkable Lives of Women Artists. Bob Adams. Retrieved April 7, Plage (Lapalux Remix) - Crystal Fighters - Plage EP from the original on May 24, Retrieved April 9, New York Times. June 30, Retrieved January 18, The Blues Foundation.