Henry Whitter Festival
Contact Information
Firehouse Drive
Fries, VA 24330
About the Venue

Henry Whitter was born in Fries in 1892. He learned to play guitar at a very young age and later learned the fiddle, banjo, harmonica, and piano. Whitter quit his job at the Fries Cotton Mill in 1923 and went to New York City to pursue a music career. He was signed by O’keh records and became one of the first artists to record folk/country music. He was also one of the first artists to use the harmonica rack which allowed him to play the harmonica and guitar together at the same time. One of his first solo recordings, and the song that would eventually make him rich, was “The Wreck of the Southern Old 97.” In 1927 Whitter met and became partners with the blind fiddler/singer, G.B Grayson. Over the next three years Whitter and Grayson recorded nearly forty songs. Some of their most famous songs include “The Banks of the Ohio,” “Train 45,” “Little Molly,” and “Handsome Maggie.” After the death of Grayson in an automobile accident in 1930, Whitter stopped recording and did very few performances. Whitter later died of diabetes in 1941.

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