Through the '60s and '70s, this pianist and vocalist's far-flung touring activities in the Preservation Hall Jazz Band alongside her husband, trumpeter De De Pierce, made her one of the most widely heard performers in the history of New Orleans jazz. An examination of her family background also indicates that perhaps she was one of the most stubborn: despite the fact that both her parents as well as a total of seven sisters also played piano, the performer who came to be known as Billie Pierce insisted on teaching the keyboard to herself. She was born Wilhelmina Goodson, the surname something of a rallying cry for classic blues piano in the heyday of the Gulf Coast's Roaring Twenties music scene.
As Billie Goodson, this performer tickled the piano keys for classic blues empress Bessie Smith at a theater in Pensacola in the early part of that decade, and also worked in the bands of Alphonse Picou, Emile Barnes, and George Lewis. There was also Ida Goodson, who spent most of her life playing piano in the Pensacola area, and Sadie Goodson, who like her sister Billie moved on to the livelier action of New Orleans. The sisters often played in so-called honky tonks, of which Preservation Hall became most famous, inspiring a combo that has remained a supreme ambassador of the historic New Orleans small combo sound. It was a venue called the Blue Jay Club that was of most importance to Goodson and Pierce alike, however. This was where trumpeter and vocalist De De Pierce met Billie Goodson in the mid '30s -- they fell in love and started a group together, which became the house band at Luthjen's Dance Hall, the site of some excellent live recording activity in the '50s. This artist should not be confused with the reed player Billy Pierce, who began recording in the '70s.