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Etta Baker, Legend of Piedmont Blues

A handful of field recordings of Etta Baker's music, released in the 1960s, were enough to influence many aspiring traditional guitarists, from Bob Dylan to Taj Mahal. But Baker wasn't paid for her music until recent years -- she put out her first full CD in 1991.

Baker has also benefited from the Music Maker Relief Foundation, a non-profit group formed to aid musicians who pioneered American blues and rock but missed out on many financial gains. The woman recognized as a treasure of the Piedmont Blues style popular through the mountains of Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia stayed on at her factory job in Morganton, N.C., for some 50 years.

But those days have passed, and now Baker, who raised nine children and now enjoys a large extended family, devotes her attention to her music, and collaborations with other musicians, like Taj Mahal.

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Allan Coukell