Every time February rolls around and I see all the advertised “celebrate Black History Month” events (my own highly diverse Northrop-Grumman company goes all out), I ponder doing a Players Feature on historical black harp guitarists. Mainly because I have been amassing a small collection of images over the years representing what originally seemed a very rare anomaly. Considering the scarcity of modern African-American harp guitarists in today’s community (literally, only one so far that I know of), it’s interesting and wonderful to see so many preserved images of this microcosm from the past – especially since America’s turn-of-the-last-century harp guitar community was largely an “old white guys” club (something we surprisingly – and wryly – note about our current demographic).
When this site made its debut, I had just a couple images of non-Caucasian harp guitar players. Over the years, more and more images have come to light, many of which have been added to the Iconography pages. Now (just in time for the February celebration month, which I hope is appropriate timing) I’ve brought together all these images and many more, with analysis of the instruments and what information I could about the players (usually slim to none). A short series of new articles will include all of these images that I’ve been fortunate to collect. Except for a final chapter (saved for a later date), I plan to keep discussion of issues of race and other social commentary to a minimum. Instead, I’ll let the images speak for themselves. I hope they will surprise, entertain and reward you.