Sonny TerrySonny Terry was born on 24/10/1911 in Greensboro, Georgia.His birth name was Saunders Terrell. His father would teach him to play blues harp when he was young. He would suffer eye injuries and would go blind by the time he was 16. His blindness forced him to play music for a living, as he was unable to work on the farm. He would play the song "Campdown Races" to the plough horses to improve the efficiency of the farming. In Shelby, North Carolina he performed blues music. After his father died, he joined Blind Boy Fuller's trio.
In 1938 Terry played at Carnegie Hall for the first "From Spirituals to Swing Concert". Later in the year, he recorded for the Library of Congress.
In 1940 he recorded his first commercial recordings.
In 1941 Fuller died. Terry would establish a due with Brownie McGhee. The duo would become popular in the folk revival of the fifties and sixties after fronting a jump blues combo in the forties. They collaborated with Styve Homnick, Woody Guthrie and Moses Asch.
In 1947 Terry was in the Broadway comedy "Finian's Rainbow".
In 1970 he appeared in the comedy "The Jerk".
In 1985 he appeared in the film "The Color Purple".
In 1986 his cover of Robert Johnson's "Crossroads Blues" featured in the film "Crossroads" and he also featured on the soundtrack with his collaboration with Ry Cooder on the song "Walkin' Away Blues". In march of that year, Terry died of natural causes in Mineola, New York. It was just three days before the release of the film. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in the same year.