On this day in 2012, Nathaniel H. “Nat” Reese, Sr., passed away.
Born in March of 1924 in Salem, VA, Reese was the son of Thomas and Rosa Reese. At age four his parents introduced Reese to music. He soon took up the guitar and was largely influenced by the traveling blues musicians who came through the coal camps and as a young man performed in various string bands that played the coal fields in the days before racial integration.
Reese worked a number of years in the coal mines before deciding that coal mining was not for him. Though he was only allowed to have an eighth grade education at the time, he won second prize in an art contest and was admitted to a state college where he earned a degree in commercial art, while continuing to develop his musical career.
Reese fronted the group the Starlight Gospel Singers, and later a gospel quartet, The Heavenly Gospel Singers. Later, Reese focused on blues and swing music.
Reese performed at both the Smithsonian and National Folk Festivals, he was a member of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame and was a U.S. Army veteran serving in World War II and of the Baptist faith.