No details are available for the date and place of birth of this obscure American blues singer, nor for his death, which is presumed. Charles was recorded in the late 50s/early 60s by blues historian Dr. Harry Oster along with several other inmates at Louisiana’s Angola prison. Other prisoners on the original vinyls, released first on Oster’s Louisina Folklore Society label and then by Arhoolie Records, are Robert Pete Williams, Hogman Maxey, Guitar Welch and Clara Young, the latter one of three female blues singers Oster set down while at the penitentiary. When reissued on CD, the album was extended by a substantial amount of previously unheard material. Charles’ contributions, performed in a rich baritone, including a talking blues, ‘Strike At Camp 1’, a tough stone-breaking hammer song, ‘Berta’, and an emotionally powerful version of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s 1928 ‘See That My Grave Is Kept Clean’, retitled ‘Have You Ever Heard The Church Bells Tone’. The Vanguard Records label also issued an album of Charles’ recordings in 1964.
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