In January 2022 we got a message on our Facebook inbox , it read “ I have a question on the blues singer and guitarist Henry Spaulding who recorded “Cairo Blues” back in the 20’s. He is my husband’s great grandfather. Do you happen to have an article and a picture of him by any chance?”
Our social media manager D’Arcy Rix Hayes replied “ Hi there. I’d be happy to help and send you anything and everything on him I can find.” and he sent all the information that we had “ You can imagine our delight when this next messaged arrived
“Thank you so much! I was able to stumble upon the same article when I searched and the two songs of my husband’s great grandfather. His full name was Henry Hezekiah Spaulding He was born May 7th, 1901, in Madison, St. Francis County in Arkansas. He passed away from pulmonary tuberculosis on June 16th, 1942, in St. Louis, Missouri. I am attaching a photo of him as well “
The correspondence continued, “His parents were William Spaulding and Benetta Womack. His spouse was Hazel Wilson. Henry had one son with Hazel, who was my husband’s Grandfather Hezekiah Milan Spaulding.
Gary then wrote saying “This is Gary Atkinson. I run Document Records, along with my wife, who is also my fellow music fan, Gillian. We are thrilled that you have been in touch with regards to you husband’s great grandfather, Henry Hezekiah Spaulding. Thank you so much for sending the photograph of him and the biographical details.
I regard your contact with Document as being an absolute highlight of my experiences, both as a music fan from being a young boy through the last twenty-two years as the MD of Document Records, which began its life in 1986.
Among the thousands of blues recordings, made in the “pre-war” years, ‘Cairo Blues’ has to have been one of the most stirring and fascinating to have been made by an artist who has otherwise drawn a complete biographical blank, that is, until now. Over the years, I have had many discussions with music fans about that one record and speculated on the mystery of the man who’s only two recorded performances are on it.”
Of course, that was not quite true to say that there had been a complete biographical blank as Blues and Rhythm volume 354 in 2011 contained a very well researched article written by Chris Smith about Henry Spaulding which yielded new information . We passed that on to the family and that helped them fill in more of the blanks .
You can read that article here http://www.bluesandrhythm.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Henry-Spaulding-Pages-from-BR-354-Final-Proof.pdf
For us at Document , there was only one thing we could do to celebrate this marvellous moment and further acknowledge Henry Spaulding’s recordings , his life and his current family :-, we rush re-released a batch of the Document Records CD album ‘St Louis Country Blues’, which feature Henry’s two recordings.
Bringing these albums back into stock, we gave them a makeover and producing them both with new graphic design and improved sound.
The front cover now features the amazing photograph of Henry and the photographs of two other bluesmen who lived in St Louis at the same time as him: Henry Townsend and Jaydee Short.
Of course, we sought permission for this and were thrilled to read the gracious reply
“Yes, you definitely can use the photograph 🙏🏽 my husband and I would be thrilled.
Discographic Details . Cairo Blues / Biddle Street Blues
Performed by Henry Spaulding – May 7th, 1901-June 16th, 1942
Original Label: Brunswick – 7085. Format: Shellac, 10″, 78 RPM
Country: US. Released: 1929.Words & Music .Henry Hezekiah Spaulding
Publishing ; Public Domain Work .Genre: Blues
You can check out the CD here https://thedocumentrecordsstore.com/product/st-louis-country-blues-1929-1937/