The King of the Upper Ninth

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Help me finish a multimedia profile of the great and underappreciated New Orleans bluesman Little Freddie King.
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Barry Yeoman
Writing
Durham, North Carolina
United States
1 Team Member

Will you help me preserve a slice of America's blues culture?

Little Freddie King is one of the last great country bluesmen in New Orleans. In the mid-1950s, as a teenager, he hopped a freight train south from McComb, Mississippi to escape the hard life of a sharecropper. He taught himself to play guitar by buying 45 rpm records and listening to them at 33 rpm, then found work performing at the city's corner nightclubs, including one notoriously nicknamed the Bucket of Blood. There, he learned to dive behind the Rock-Ola jukebox every time the bullets started flying. King played on weekends and fixed car alternators by day. He was scrappy and drank hard for much of his adulthood. In the 1980s, his wife stabbed and shot him in a jealous rage. Forced by his injuries to quit drinking, he underwent the transformation into the man he is today: a quiet, modest gentleman who still plays a hard-driving "gutbucket" blues. 
 
I have spent many hours interviewing King, most recently for a radio documentary called Still Singing the Blues, produced with Richard Ziglar. Now, I've been offered an opportunity to tell his story at more length—a longform written narrative illustrated with beautiful photography and embedded with multimedia like audio. It will be available for download, at a nominal price, to read on your iPad, Kindle, Nook, or computer (as well as other media). I'm working with a brand-new publisher whose soon-to-be-launched online publication will showcase longform narrative from the South.

Though I've done much of the research, more needs to be done. Adding together time and expenses, this is a $10,000 to $12,000 project. I am trying to raise at least $2,000 via this Indiegogo campaign to cover the cost of two additional short trips to New Orleans—both travel expenses and research time. If I raise more, and I hope I do, it will help underwrite the labor-intensive writing and audio-editing process.

Why am I so excited about this? Well, K
ing is a fabulous storyteller, whether he’s recounting his own personal history or telling salacious stories about the New Orleans nightlife in the 1960s and '70s. His stories are intervowen with the larger social history of race, music, and migration in the Deep South. His struggles and resilience mirror his city’s. I have documented Southern musicians in four radio documentaries, including Truckin' My Blues Away and Zydeco Nation. This project gives me the opportunity to tell one amazing musician's story in considerably more depth. It also give me a chance to return to my roots; I started my journalism career in Louisiana more than 30 years ago. You can read about my own work at barryyeoman.com.
 

How will I thank you for donating?

  • If you make any size donation over $5, I will send you a personal thank-you letter.
  • I'm offering a number of perks, musical and sartorial, relating to New Orleans music (and particularly Little Freddie's music).
  • Really big donors will get public acknowledgements. Really, really big donors can have me coach their non-fiction writing.
  • The one thing I cannot offer you is a free download of the story. But the cost will be less than a latte at your local coffee shop.

What if you can't donate?

That doesn’t mean you can’t help. Tell your friends about this campaign through email, Facebook and Twitter. Urge them to contribute. Use the Indiegogo share tools.

Find This Campaign On
$7,039USD
raised by 150 people in 1 month
352% funded
0 time left
$2,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on April 30, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $5USD
    Written gratitude

    A hand-written thank-you letter from me.

    8 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $20USD
    Special audio snippet

    An MP3 of a snippet from my interview with Little Freddie King, for your ears only. Plus the thank-you letter.

    29 claimed
  • $50USD
    Download our documentary

    An MP3 download of "Still Singing the Blues," a radio documentary produced by Richard Ziglar and Barry Yeoman that features three extraordinary Louisiana blues musicians: Little Freddie King, Carol Fran, and Harvey Knox.

    20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $100USD
    Little Freddie King CD

    A hand-selected CD of Little Freddie King's music. (I will only select CDs from which I know he receives royalties.) Plus an MP3 download of "Still Singing the Blues" and a hand-written thank-you letter from me.

    8 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • SOLD OUT

    $100USD
    Cool T-shirt

    A Little Freddie King T-shirt, size XXL. Plus an MP3 download of "Still Singing the Blues" and a hand-written thank-you letter from me.

    2 out of 2 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $150USD
    Crescent City Blues CD

    A CD of "Crescent City Blues," an hour-long radio documentary produced by Richard Ziglar about New Orleans' culture of corner blues bars. Plus an MP3 download of "Still Singing the Blues" and a hand-written thank-you letter from me.

    2 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $250USD
    Public acknowledgement

    You will be acknowledged as a major funder in the credits. Plus you'll receive a Little Freddie King CD, an MP3 download of "Still Singing the Blues," and a hand-written thank-you letter from me.

    5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $500USD
    Let me coach you

    I will read up to ten pages of your non-fiction writing and offer you an hour-long coaching session via phone, Skype, or (if you live near me) in person. Plus a Little Freddie King CD, an MP3 download of "Still Singing the Blues," an acknowledgement in the credits, and a hand-written thank-you letter from me.

    0 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
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