Born into slavery in Georgia, Tom Wiggins was both blind and autistic. After discovering music, Tom was playing piano by age four. In 1908, he died an international musical celebrity in New York City.
"The Ballad of Blind Tom, Slave Pianist" by Diedre O'Connell tells the story of this unassuming man who could never forget a tune. He toured the country and the world, playing for packed music halls and private audiences, for celebrities and royalty.
Although he was freed from slavery, throughout his life, he remained the property of his White guardian. During his years, he was part side-show freak and part musical genius, able to reproduce any piece of music after hearing it just once. Even his death was part show – he had reported to have died four times before a fatal stroke felled him in 1908.
The book uncovers the life and legacy of one of the lost entertainers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.