Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Before the Memories Fade: Sparky Rucker

Today I headed down to Maryville, Tennessee, to interview famous folk singer James “Sparky” Rucker about his participation in the movement. As soon as Sparky opened the door I knew why his fans adore him. His smile and warm welcome clued me in that this was going to be a great interview.

Sparky can definitely tell a great story. He shared stories not just of his role in the civil rights movement but also those of his father, who was an African American police officer in Knoxville during the 1960s. Sparky also explained that many songs from the civil rights movement have their origins in slave songs and the words were rewritten to fortify those in the movement.

When the interview was over, Sparky graced me by playing a song or two. Listening to Sparky as he played the guitar and sang put me in the spirit of the movement. If you get a chance, you should see Sparky and his wife, Rhonda, perform. For more information, go to

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