Pianist Ida Goodson was born into a musically gifted family near Pensacola, Florida, in 1909. She was the youngest of seven girls raised by strict Southern Baptist parents who prohibited the playing of secular music in the home. Despite that, both she and her sister, Wilhelmina Goodson, learned to play the piano and developed a love for barrelhouse blues and jazz. Ida Goodson performed throughout the South but maintained a home base in Pensacola, where she often accompanied tours with national stars such as Bessie Smith. She was adept at several different styles of music, including gospel, jazz, blues, vaudeville, and popular songs. In 1979, she was rediscovered by field researchers working for the Florida Folklife Commission, who included several of her compositions on the widely acclaimed Drop on Down in Florida double album. Goodson became a mainstay at the Florida Folk Festival and was awarded the prestigious Florida Folk Heritage Award in 1987. In 1989, she appeared in the documentary film Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues, and at age 80 she stole the show from the younger, more widely known musicians.
Learn more about Ida Goodson, view photos, and listen to musical examples at Florida Memory.