Congratulating Elizabeth Libba Cotten posthumously upon the occasion of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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Senate Resolution No. 2486

BY: Senator MAY

CONGRATULATING Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten
posthumously upon the occasion of being inducted
into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

WHEREAS, It is the custom of this Legislative Body to honor and pay
just tribute to those musical geniuses whose commitment and creative
talents contributed to the entertainment and cultural enrichment of
their community, the State of New York, and the entire Nation; and

WHEREAS, Attendant to such concern, and in full accord with its
long-standing traditions, this Legislative Body is justly proud to
congratulate Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten posthumously upon the occasion of
being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to be celebrated at a
Ceremony on Saturday, November 5, 2022, at the Microsoft Theater in Los
Angeles, California; and

WHEREAS, In addition to this monumental honor, Elizabeth Cotten will
receive the Early Influence Award; and

WHEREAS, Elizabeth Cotten was born to Louisa (Price) and George
Nevills on January 5, 1893, near Chapel Hill, North Carolina; the
youngest of five children, she was known as Li'l Sis until she named
herself on her first day of school; and

WHEREAS, Surrounded by music, Elizabeth Cotten began playing songs
at the young age of eight; one year later, she left school to work; at
the age of 12, she had a live-in job as a domestic worker in Chapel
Hill, making a dollar a month, which her mother saved up to buy her
first guitar from Sears and Roebuck; and

WHEREAS, Elizabeth Cotten taught herself how to play her guitar and
became quite proficient, inventing her alternating bass style, "Cotten
picking"; a lefty, she played a guitar strung for a right-handed player,
upside down, so she could play the bass lines with her fingers and the
melody with her thumb; and

WHEREAS, Elizabeth Cotten began to write her own songs, and "Freight
Train" was written about a nearby train she could hear from her home;

WHEREAS, As a teenager, Elizabeth married Frank Cotten, and
together, they raised their daughter, Lillie, in several locations
before settling in Washington, D.C.; during this time, she gave up her
music for her new family and church; and

WHEREAS, Upon divorcing Frank, Elizabeth Cotten moved in with her
daughter and her family; in the 1940s, she was hired to work at the
house of the Seeger family, which included folk singer Pete Seeger;
after playing "Freight Train" for Peggy Seeger, it was falsely
copyrighted by two British songwriters and sung on "The Ed Sullivan
Show"; and

WHEREAS, With help from the Seeger family, Elizabeth Cotten sued for
copyright infringement and picked up her guitar again after 25 years and
began to perform publicly for the first time in her 60s; and

WHEREAS, In the later 1950s, Elizabeth Cotten's songs were recorded
by Mike Seeger, and later, became the album Folksongs and Instrumentals
with Guitar; many of her songs, including her most famous "Freight
Train" were covered by many popular artists of the day; and

WHEREAS, Elizabeth Cotten played her first concert with Mike Seeger
at Swarthmore College in 1960, and soon performed many concerts with
various folk singers; and

WHEREAS, Elizabeth Cotten wrote and performed more songs, and in
1967, she released a single with her grandchildren, "Shake Sugaree";
after much success, she and her family moved to Syracuse, New York,
where she continued to tour and make music; and

WHEREAS, Elizabeth Cotten received her first Grammy award at the age
of 90, and was named Syracuse's first Living Treasure in 1983; she was
also recognized by the Smithsonian Institution and was named a National
Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts; and

WHEREAS, In 1987, Elizabeth Cotten died at the age of 92; in
recognition of her many contributions to music, a grove named in
Elizabeth Cotten's honor was established at the corner of South State
and Castle Streets, and is highlighted by a bronze statue of her
likeness playing guitar in her famous upside-down style; and

WHEREAS, Elizabeth Cotten has the great honor of being the first
person from Syracuse to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame;

WHEREAS, Throughout her storied music career, Elizabeth Cotten has
inspired and influenced generations of younger artists through her
songwriting, and unique playing style; and

WHEREAS, It is the practice of this Legislative Body to remember the
life and many accomplishments of musical greats such as Elizabeth
Cotten, whose memorable career will forever live in the hearts of many
and continue to inspire generations to come; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That this Legislative Body pause in its deliberations to
congratulate Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten posthumously upon the occasion of
being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; and be it further

RESOLVED, That a copy of this Resolution, suitably engrossed, be
transmitted to the family of Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten.


  • 05 / May / 2022
  • 10 / May / 2022
  • 10 / May / 2022

Resolution Details

Law Section:
Resolutions, Legislative


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