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The Ultimate Alabama Playlist

4. “Trouble So Hard” – Vera Hall (1937)


Over a century after her birth, Vera Hall’s “Troubles So Hard” is still enthralling listeners and shaping American music. One of the greatest folk singers the world has ever known, Vera developed her craft in humble Livingston, Ala. Her strong and beautiful voice gave this song an almost haunting quality that makes it hard to forget. Younger generations likely recognize the song from being sampled throughout electronic musician Moby’s 1999 hit “Natural Blues.”

This week’s track was chosen by C.S. Fuqua, Alabama historian and music writer. Here’s what he had to say about his pick:

“Vera Hall Ward is one of the foremost interpreters of African American blues and spirituals. American folklorist Alan Lomax recorded Hall and others in Alabama in the late 1930s and 1940s, which brought some fame but not wealth to Hall. She died indigent and blind in 1964”.

Her work may have been underpaid but her contributions never will be underestimated.


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