George Higgs

2010_HiggsGeorge Higgs

Trained as a carpenter, George Higgs was better known for his music playing on the harmonica and guitar. Born in Edgecombe County near Speed in 1930, George learned to play the harmonica from his father who taught him gospel and folk tunes. He grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry and especially liked African American music pioneer Deford Bailey. When George was a teenager, he wanted a guitar, so he sold his best hunting dog to get one. The dog liked him and his music and spent more time with George than he did the new owner. Although he worked most of his life as a carpenter, George became a popular entertainer in the area after WWII performing at fish fries, house parties and community events. For a time he performed in churches with a local quartet, The Friendly Five. Eventually George left them to focus on the blues. George performed all over in his 80 years and toured throughout the United States. Among his many venues were the Carolina Blues Festival in Winston Salem, Gathering the Vibes in New York, the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York. He took his work around the world to the Blues to Bop festival in Lugano, Switzerland, and even as far south as Australia. Higgs was honored with the NC Folklore Brown Hudson Award in 1992 and the NC Folk Heritage Award from the NC Arts Council the following year. He released two CDs and continues to perform across the state. Higgs and his wife Betty have five children. In 1999 the family lost everything in the flood of Hurricane Floyd, but were able to rebuild their home in Tarboro. He is considered one of the last of the great Piedmont blues guitarists and harmonica players.

Inducted into Hall of Fame 2010
Deceased