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"Freight Train" by Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten

Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten (1895-1987) built her musical legacy on a firm foundation of late 19th- and early 20th-century African-American instrumental traditions and fine musicianship. She fretted the strings with her right hand and picked with her left, the reverse of the usual method. This meant she would thumb the treble strings while finger-picking the bass notes, creating an almost inimitable sound. Her method was so influential it became known as the "Cotten style." Watch this unique style in a performance of "Freight Train," her best-known song, edited from film taken by Pete and Toshi Seeger at the Seeger family home in 1957. More about Elizabeth Cotten