Brother Robert Update

8 Sep

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This photo was taken inside the Dallas, Texas studio where Robert Johnson recorded “Hell Hound On My Trail” in June, 1937.

The Brother Robert memoir project–Mrs. A.C. Anderson’s story of growing up with Robert Johnson–is just less than half-funded with a little over a week to go in the kickstarter campaign. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition, we either reach the $15,000 goal, or you get refunded.

So far I’ve been very pleased with the support the project has received, and especially the quality of support–the donations have been tremendously generous. And they’ve come from highly respected individuals who want to see this happen.

I think the challenge has been one of reach. Going into this, I thought for sure that the project could find 1,000 people who’d each give $15 to make it happen. It’s gotten in front of maybe a couple hundred total.

So, please do share with friends and colleagues. When people see and hear Mrs. Anderson, they give. Twenty percent of the people who view the minute-long video on the project page end up donating.

The work has been so rewarding. Mrs. Anderson’s memories, not only of Robert Johnson, but of the people who he spent his life with, are precious. I really look forward to when the world gets to hear  Mrs. Anderson’s voice.

The process of getting this story down is that I am interviewing her, transcribing the interviews, and shaping what she’s told me into a narrative. (Interviews with a 92-year-old don’t always stick to a clean chronology!) We’ve covered most if not all of what she knows about Robert Johnson’s life. As a longtime Memphis history nerd, it’s been a  thrill to explore yet another neighborhood of the past, getting to know the characters who populated it, and spending time in the places where people relaxed, ate, went for beer, and listened to records.

From here, we’ll discuss Robert Johnson’s afterlife, and how his growing stardom after death has affected his family. The entire story is an incredibly moving and poignant look at an African-American family. The family has survived many threats to its existence while re-grouping and reshaping, and always maintaining, caring for the memories of those who’ve gone on.

Thank you again. Mrs. Anderson is no more of an Internet person than she is a first-name person, but she’s very grateful to you for your help and really looking forward to sharing her story. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brotherrobert/brother-robert

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