Willie James and Mary McClain at the 1984 Florida Folk Festival

Date: May 27, 1984

Source: S1577 , Container v. 25 , S85-363 - S85-376

Type: Still Image

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  • Twelve color slides. Singer McClain, of Bradenton, and pianist Blind Willie James, of St. Petersburg, performing at the festival's main stage. Known as Diamond Teeth Mary for the jewels she placed in her teeth in the 1940s, Mary was born in West Virginia, and always claimed to be the half sister of fellow blues singer Bessie Smith. In 1918, she moved to Florida's Gulf Coast. During her later years, she lived in Bradenton, Florida. Although McClain was a popular performer in the 1920s and 1930s, she stopped performing the blues for many years. She was rediscovered by the Florida Folklife Program in the 1980s. In 1986, she won the Florida Folk Heritage Award in 1986. She died on 4 April 2000.

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