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Depot at night - Photo Credit Jason B Smith
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About the Project

The McTell’s 12 String Strut project is a public art project meant to recognize and honor the legacy of Blind Willie McTell, his music and the fact that such an influential musician was born and lived in McDuffie County.

It’s a simple project with regional impact: 7-foot-tall polyurethane replicas of 12-string Stella  guitars will be transformed into works of art, stimulating viewers from far and wide; creating partnerships in the community, promoting tourism and providing fun for all ages. McTell’s 12 String Strut is proud to collaborate with the creative minds in our local artist community.

About Blind Willie McTell

Blind Willie McTell was born William Samuel McTier in 1898 in the Happy Valley area of McDuffie County, near Thomson, Georgia. McTell lost his eyesight at an early age in his childhood. He attended schools for the blind, showed proficiency in music and learned to read and write music in Braille; quite an accomplishment for a young African American male in the early 1900’s.


McTell learned how to play guitar in his early teens. He soon became a street performer around several Georgia cities including Atlanta and Augusta. Blind Willie McTell became one of the most accomplished twelve string guitar players in his time, writing and recording music for different labels under different names throughout the 1920s and 30s. In 1940, he was recorded by folklorist John A. Lomax for the Library of Congress's folk song archive. Although McTell never produced a major hit record during his lifetime, his music has influenced countless contemporary musicians, including: Bob Dylan, the Allman Brothers Band, Taj Mahal, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Ralph McTell, Chris Smither and Jack White.


McTell died in Milledgeville, Georgia, of a stroke in 1959 and is buried at Jones Grove Church cemetery, in McDuffie County. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1981, and into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1990.


Elizabeth Vance

Thomson-McDuffie CVB

149 Main Street

Thomson, GA 30824



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