I’ve come across a story which is so strange that I can hardly believe it’s true. It concerns Elizabeth Cotten, an American folk singer. I wouldn’t know anything about her if I hadn’t been so captivated by a song I heard on the radio that I went onto the internet to find out what it was. The song, Shake Sugaree, is practically unknown but it turned out that its author had written several well known songs including the classic Freight Train. This in an nutshell is Elizabeth’s Cotten’s story. She was born in 1895, the grand-daughter of a slave. Her parents were too poor to send her to school but she got a job which paid her 50 cents a month. When, after 2 years, her wage was put up to 75 cents she used the extra to buy a guitar, which she learned to play upside down as she was left-handed. When she was 12, she composed Freight Train. She got married at 15 and forgot about music until, 40 years later, she got a job as a maid with the folk music family, the Seegers. It was two years before the Seegers realised she could sing and play the guitar, but eventually they noticed her talent and made a recording of her songs. She gave her first public performance when she was in her sixties and her songs have been covered by many artists, including Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary and The Grateful Dead. This is the American Dream come true.