By James Calemine
Cora Mae Bryant is the daughter of Georgia guitar legend Curly Weaver. She grew up on the countryside outside Atlanta. As a girl, Cora Mae attended house parties with Curly Weaver and Blind Willie McTell.
On Cora’s soulful release, Born in Newton County, she covers Blind Willie McTell’s “East St. Louis Blues”, and two of her father’s compositions, “Empty Room Blues” and “Cold Rainy Day”. Referring to her musical direction, Cora Mae once said: “Any song I sing, it’s got to have some curly or Blind Willie in it.” On the song “Cross the River of Jordan” Cora Mae’s version resembles the McTell rendition, indicating churchgoing influenced her musical instincts, as she revealed: “when I come up in the church I heard all these spirituals being sung.”
The thirteen songs on Born in Newton County display Cora’s inimitable baritone voice accompanied by Joshua Jacobson on acoustic guitar. Liner notes written by Music Maker president Tim Duffy include song tunings and Cora Mae’s story behind each composition.
Born in Newton County conjures an old time blues sound—transporting the listener to a place where one can smell turnip greens, barbecue smoke and see chickens running around in the front yard.