I was reading a bit of Nashville history in George Zepp’s wonderful Hidden History of Nashville and ran across the story of Cortelia Clark. I was surprised I had never encountered this man or his music before. He was a street musician, and a Nashvillian by way of Chicago. He lived at 934 Jefferson Street in a small wooden frame house, located just up from where the Garden Brunch Cafe is now. Sadly, this house was the site of an unfortunate accident in which his kerosene stove exploded and caught fire. He survived briefly, though eventually passed in the hospital — his friends claiming that the hospital cooking wasn’t as good as his wife’s, and he lost his will to live. An album of interviews and his music won a grammy in 1967 for best folk recording.
I understand he performed in a number of places downtown, but most commonly on 5th avenue between Church and Union, which coincidentally is now the locus of a small resurgence in the arts itself. Check out an interview and a song below:
The street sounds in the background crack me up. Sounds like 5th avenue was a livelier place in 1965.