Eric Crawford, director of the Joyner Institute for Gullah and African Diaspora Studies at Coastal Carolina University, holds a PhD in musicology from the Catholic University of America. In 2007, he began extensive field recordings on Saint Helena Island, and his transcriptions are held at the Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. His most recent publication is At Low Tide: The Voices of Sandy Island.
A Points South essay from the South Carolina Music Issue.
Lillie’s sound is not readily identifiable as black or white but seems a merger of the two as she effortlessly blends country and blues in a haunting song about family loss. Noticeably absent is the Gullah Geechee accent, and she finds little use for vibrato. Instead, a pure, unadorned, angelic quality characterizes her soprano. Such simplicity proves effective in conveying Lillie’s innermost thoughts—her pain.