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Fast Chat with Clyde

Musician recognized for contributions to African-American culture

Blues guitarist Clyde “Pop” Ferguson, 83, is a frequent guest musician in the churches of the North Carolina District. He and his son, Clyde Jr., a USMB Leadership Board member, visit churches and schools teaching about the music of African-American culture. As one of the last musicians of his era, Pop’s stories and recordings will be part of the National Museum of African American History.

How long have you been playing music?

I’ve been playing since I was ten. Back in those days I didn’t have any toys to play with. I just had a tire. My father got me a guitar somehow.

Who did you play for?

At first I played for my dog and two cats. My daddy was a preacher so my start was in church.

Where did your music take you after you grew up?

In the church it was all gospel. After I came home from World War 2 I started running the roads as a blues man, but I never forgot my upbringing in the church.

You’re back in the church now. How is church playing different?

Church people enjoy the old-fashioned gospel style and you don’t put on so much antics. In the juke joints you let loose. 

Why did the Smithsonian honor you?

I don’t know. I was just playing, having fun and got a letter one day saying I was going to be put in the Smithsonian.

Interview by Kathy Heinrichs Wiest

NOTE: The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Cullture opened Sept. 24, 2016.




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