Born in Fitzgerald, GA, Abner Jay was the son and grandson of slaves. As a sharecropper, Abner worked from the time he could walk but did not receive his first pay until after his 21st birthday. Abner picked up the six-string banjo at a young age at his grandfather's insistence. When he was 25, Abner fought in WWII before touring with vaudeville and minstrel shows. He soon left to pursue his solo endeavors.
"I'm So Depressed" - Abner Jay
Throughout his career, Abner played with notable musicians such as Otis Redding, Muddy Waters, James Brown and Little Richard. He recorded and distributed all of his own material on his self-made record label, Brandie Records, named after his daughter. Abner Jay has been referred to as the "black Bob Dylan" by music critics and an "American master" by philosophers.
"Vietnam" - Abner Jay
He married 7 women throughout his life and fathered 16 children. He was manager to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, played at the Apollo and is said to have been a pimp at one point in the 1960s. At the end of his life and career, Abner Jay spent several years touring the South in a mobile home that converted into a portable stage, including PA systems and home furnishings. He died in 1993 just a few days after playing the 1993 Grassroots Festival in Trumansburg, New York.