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Ida Goodson

1987 Florida Folk Heritage Award


Ida Goodson was an African American Floridian whose career as a musician began when she was three years old. By the age of sixteen she began playing the blues, jazz, and gospel songs that are a part of her musical repertoire. Goodson was one of six daughters of a Baptist deacon—all of whom pursued careers playing blues and jazz piano.

In 1927 and 1928, she played regularly as an accompanist at the Belmont Theater, Pensacola’s main black music hall. In the early l930s, she began traveling with a New Orleans band which had relocated in Pensacola. Among her accomplishments, Goodson accompanied blues legend Bessie Smith in a performance available on the video Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues. In the late l930s and 1940s big band swing replaced the earlier New Orleans jazz that she had played. From the1950s onward, Goodson turned her attention to gospel and played organ for several churches in Pensacola. Goodson’s performing style and repertoire reflected the many influences in her life. Her work appeared on an album issued by the Florida Folklife Program, Ida Goodson: Pensacola Piano—Florida Gulf Blues, Jazz, and Gospel.