Algia Mae Hinton

Blues musician and buckdancer Algia Mae Hinton was born in Johnston County, North Carolina, in 1929. The youngest of 14 children, Hinton grew up helping her family raise tobacco, corn, cucumbers, and sweet potatoes. In her free time, she learned to play music from her mother, Ollie O'Neal, a talented multi-instrumentalist who played the guitar, accordion, autoharp, harmonica, and jaw harp. By the time Hinton had reached her mid-teens, she was playing the guitar for local dances and house parties.

Hinton's passion for playing music was exceeded only by her love of dancing, though she explains that "it takes both to make it sound right." The Hintons were recognized as being among the preeminent regional practitioners of buckdancing--a rhythmic, percussive traditional dance form that many see as a direct precursor to tap dancing--and the young performer was soon one of the most accomplished dancers in the family, often executing her complex steps while playing a guitar behind her head.

Hinton's husband died prematurely in 1965, leaving her alone to raise seven children, and she eked out a living doing seasonal farm work, and playing guitar and dancing on the side. In 1978, Hinton was invited to perform at the North Carolina Folklife Festival. Since that time, she has appeared at the National Folk Festival, the Chicago University Folk Festival, Carnegie Hall, and the North Carolina Museum of Art. In 1992, Hinton received the North Carolina Heritage Award, and in 1999 she collaborated with Hillsborough's Music Maker Foundation to release the album Honey Babe.

Now in her eighties, Hinton is widely recognized as a master picker and buckdancer in the Piedmont styles. Says musician Taj Mahal, "Algia Mae is a great example of what is called throughout the African diaspora 'Original Joe,' an innovative character who survives and creates anew under all circumstances. Algia Mae Hinton is someone not to be missed."

Booking Agency: 
Music Maker Foundation
Booking Contact: 
Aaron Greenhood
Booking Address: 
P. O. Box 1358
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Booking Phone: 
(919) 643-2456
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Artist Genre: 
Artist Instruments: 
Guitar - Acoustic
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