Born in 1919 in Itti Bena, Mississippi, Moses Williams grew up traveling as a citrus farm worker and clown performer. This eventually led him to Florida, where he began focusing on a music career. Moses learned to play a variety of instruments including the harmonica, guitar, piano, and his personal favorite – the “diddley bow.” Designed as a one-stringed zither, it consisted of an upside-down broom with wire tension, a tin can resonator, and glass bottle slide.
This instrument can be heard on several recordings including Drop on Down in Florida, released by the Florida Folklife Program. Considered a primitive guitar, this instrument helped shape him into a successful blues musician, and his career consisted of many performances and public demonstrations. Moses Williams composed original tunes for this unique instrument, including “Which Way Did My Baby Go” and “Apple Farm Blues,” which can be heard on the record Where the Palm Trees Shake at Night. Moses Williams passed away in 1988.