Willie Eason

Willie Eason, 1921-2005


Willie Eason was a pioneering figure in the African American “Sacred Steel” guitar tradition of the House of God, Keith Dominion Holiness-Pentecostal churches. He influenced dozens of musicians and inspired many to play the steel guitar for worship services in nearly 200 House of God churches found in more than two dozen states. Florida is home to more than 40 House of God churches, more than any other state. Eason used the steel guitar to imitate the ornamented, improvised singing he heard in church and became known as “Little Willie and his Talking Guitar.” His reputation increased as he made seven 78 rpm records in the 1940s and 50s for black gospel labels. Eason and his family moved to St. Petersburg, Florida in 1986 where he continued to play for House of God services. He received the Florida Folk Heritage Award in 1995.

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