Father of Bahamian Music
Mar. 31, 2022
Blake Alphonso Higgs (1915 – 1986), better known as "Blind Blake", is considered the Father of Bahamian Music. Born in Matthew Town, Inagua, Higgs was blind from boyhood. Over his lifetime he wrote sixty goombay tunes and recorded four albums. He spent most of his career performing at the Royal Victoria Hotel in Nassau. In his later years, the Government hired him to entertain tourists at the International Airport.
In keeping with goombay tradition the themes of Higgs’ songs do not have profound social messages but tell a story or recount a specific event. One of his most famous songs, "Little Nassau/Peas and Rice", was written during Prohibition. The medley details the easy access to alcohol in Nassau but complains of the Bahamian frustration with a diet of peas and rice.
Click here to listen to "Peas and Rice".
His ballad "Run Come See Jerusalem" describes the1929 Bahamas Hurricane.
Click here to listen to "Run Come See Jerusalem".
He is well-known for his performance of "Love, Love Alone", a song about the abdication of Edward VIII. The Duke of Windsor, served as Governor of the Bahamas during World War II.
Click here to listen to "Love, Love Alone".
Though Higgs never enjoyed fame in his own right, his music influenced many popular performers, including Dave Van Ronk, James "Stump" Johnson, Pete Seeger, and Lord Mouse and the Kalypso Katz. Most famously, the Beach Boys recorded Higgs’ 1952 “John B. Sail”, renamed as the “Sloop John B.” Johnny Cash’s “Delia” was a rewrite of “Delia Gone.”