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Sonny Terry Estate LLC

Sonny Terry is easily one of the most respected and beloved Blues Harmonica players ever.  His music career spanned more than five decades in which he, and his partner Brownie McGhee, entertained audiences around the world.  Even after his death in 1986, his music lives on via his recordings.   Sonny’s Piedmont Blues Style of music continues to be studied by blues enthusiasts and taught by notable instructors.  Every serious blues harmonica player knows at least a few Sonny Terry songs and uses some of Sonny’s favorite “licks” in his/her playing.

The Managing Partner of Sonny Terry Estate, LLC is Atty. Delores R. Boyd who is Sonny Terry’s niece by marriage.  After her graduation from the University of Virginal Law School in 1975 and until his passing, Ms. Boyd assisted Sonny with respect to contracts and royalty entitlements.  Upon Sonny’s death in 1986, Ms. Boyd represented her Aunt Emma Terry ensuring the orderly transition of his business in accordance of his will, which named Emma as his sole beneficiary.  Emma Terry died on July 11, 2012 leaving all her interests in the life and music of Sonny Terry to her niece, Delores Boyd (90%) and two nephews (5% each).  

In addition to his music, Sonny’s estate includes numerous collectibles including his harmonicas, original contracts, photos, posters, harmonica belts, harmonica shirts, walking canes and other miscellaneous items.   In the interest of paying tribute to Sonny and to perpetuating his legacy, Ms. Boyd has decided to release some of the collectible items in his estate in the form of gifts and donations. 

Working with Tom Halchak of Blue Moon Harmonicas LLC, who has agreed to act as an Agent on behalf of Sonny Terry Estate LLC, the estate has gifted some of Sonny’s harmonicas to notable practitioners and teachers of Sonny’s music, including:

  • Adam Gussow - Author, musician, historian and owner of ModernBluesHarmonica.com
  • Joe Filisko - Master harp player, teacher, custom harmonica pioneer, researcher and historian
  • Ben Hewlett – Professional Harmonica Instructor, specializing in the Sonny Terry style of play, and Chairman of the National Harmonica League in the UK
  • Steve Baker - Professional harmonica player, teacher, author and long-time consultant to the Hohner Harmonica Company
  • Winslow Yerxa – Professional musician, harmonica expert and author of Harmonica for Dummies and Blues Harmonica for Dummies
  • Tom Ball – Professional musician and author of A Sourcebook of Sonny Terry Licks for Blues Harmonica
  • Grant Dermody - Harmonica player, singer, songwriter, and teacher

In addition to gifting harmonicas to the individuals who have helped keep Sonny’s music alive, the estate has made a generous donation to the German Harmonica and Accordion Museum in Trossingen, Germany.  During the month of November 2017, a portion Sonny’s collection will be featured in a Special Exhibit at the World Harmonica Festival.  At the conclusion of the festival the exhibit will be given a permanent home in the museum.   The estate is also in conversation with the The Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis, TN and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC to create exhibits honoring Sonny.

Lastly, the estate has decided to make a limited number of Sonny’s harmonicas and performance posters available to the general public.  The Estate harmonicas are offered individually in attractive framed shadowbox cases suitable for hanging on a wall or display on a desk or bookshelf.  Each harmonica will be accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity from Sonny Terry Estate LLC.  This is a historic opportunity for both Sonny Terry Estate LLC and Sonny’s fans.  Our goal is to conduct business professionally and with complete integrity.  We have made an abundance of information available which establishes the authenticity of the collection and the legitimacy of ownership by Sonny Terry Estate LLC. 

For interested parties, the following documents are available for your inspection which will firmly establish that Sonny Terry Estate LLC is the lawful owner of these “HARMONICA COLLECTIBLES”, as is detailed in the Affidavit of Custody and Ownership for the Hohner Harmonica Collection of Saunders “Sonny” Terrysworn on October 26, 2015, by Atty. Delores R. Boyd, in her capacity as Managing Partner of Sonny Terry Estate, LLC.  (Each of the bullet points below is a clickable hyperlink). 

 

Adam Gussow's Appraisal
In September, 2015, Delores sent 150 of Sonny's harmonicas to Adam Gussow for appraisal.  Over the course of several days, Adam inspected and played each harmonica and provided his expert opinion.  Here is a brief video he filmed during that process.


Sonny Terry Tribute at SPAH 2016

At the most recent SPAH Convention in San Antonio, TX, we organized a Sonny Terry Tribute.  The stars aligned to have some incredibly talented disciples of Sonny’s music in the place at the same time as some of Sonny’s harmonicas.  And the entire event was captured on video.  Below you can watch Joe Filisko, Grant Dermody and Peter Madcat Ruth play Sonny’s music on Sonny’s actual harmonicas.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  It was a moving performance.  If you are pressed for time and can’t watch the entire 60 minutes, if nothing else, fast forward to the end of the video and listen to Delores’ closing remarks.  I won’t spoil it.  They are moving.  


Gifting an Estate Harmonica to Tom Ball
In July, I had the pleasure of visiting Tom Ball in Santa Barbara, California.  Tom is a longtime devotee of Sonny Terry and in fact, one the books he has authored is entitled The Sourcebook of Sonny Terry Licks for Harmonica.  

In Toms's own words, "Ever since I was a kid my harmonica hero has been the late Sonny Terry. I saw him play many times, starting back in high school by seeing Brownie and Sonny in many venues and in several countries. He has always been my biggest influence and my harmonica mentor. Twenty years ago I wrote a book about him and his style. We even share the same birthday - October 24."

In keeping with our goal to express our gratitude to the artists who have worked to help keep Sonny’s music alive, we felt it was fitting to gift Tom one of Sonny’s harmonicas.  He was touched by the gesture. 

Steve Baker

Steve Baker has been a great friend and tremendous resource for Blue Moon Harmonicas for many years.  Recently he helped us connect Sonny Terry Estate LLC with the Harmonika Museum in Trossingen Germany.  The museum is now planning a major Sonny Terry Exhibit at the World Harmonica Festival in Novermber 2017.  

As a token of our appreciation, the estate has gifted a Honhner Echo Super Vamper to Steve.  Thank you Steve.

"This is an original Hohner Echo Super Vamper harmonica from the estate of the late great Sonny Terry. Sonny was a major influence on me when I started playing and I'm very happy to have facilitated a connection between his estate and the German Harmonica Museum in Trossingen with a view to creating a permanent exhibit there to commemorate Sonny and his music. "

Ben Hewlett and the National Harmonica League Festival 2016

Ben Hewlett is a log time Sonny Terry devotee.  He is a full time musician and owner of HarpsCool.com, where he offers instruction on how to play in the Sonny Terry style. Ben is also Chairman of The National Harmonica League in the UK.  The 2016 NHL Annual Festival was recently held in October.  Sonny Terry Estate LLC donated an estate harmonica to the NHL for its fundraising auction and also gifted an estate harp to Ben in dedication to keeping Sonny's music alive.  

Thank you Ben.

 


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