Willie (Big Mama) Thornton

Welcome to another feature in our Black from the Past™ segment. Today’s feature is Willie (Big Mama) Thornton, blues singer and song writer from Montgomery, AL.

Quick Facts: 

  •  Willie Mae (Big Mama) Thornton’s career lasted from the 1940s until the 1980s
  •  Earned the name “Big Mama” at the Apollo Theatre in New York
  • Best known for her recording of Hound Dog released in 1953
  • Hound Dog topped the R & B charts selling 2 million copies, but Big Mama was only paid $500
  • Elvis Presley recorded another version of Hound Dog 3 years later bringing him immeasurable fame and success
  • Died in 1984 at the age of 57
  • Inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2020

Is this your first time hearing about Willie (Big Mama) Thornton? Who should we highlight next in our Black from the Past™ series?

Black from the Past™ is a segment of the Shades of Strong podcast where we’re preserving and normalizing Black history by shining a light of Black women who have made significant contributions to the Black female culture but are often forgotten.

[Source: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Big-Mama-Thornton]

[Link(s) Mentioned:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxoGvBQtjpM&feature=youtu.be]


Do you have a family member or know of someone you would like to see us shine a light on?  Send us an email at hi@shadesofstrong.com with the subject line Black from the Past suggestion and we’ll do our best to make it happen.



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