The career of Terrence Orlando “Terry” Callier was as vibrant and diverse as the music he created. Spanning over an extensive 50 years, Callier was a singer-songwriter and guitarist who’s impressive repertoire incorporated the sounds of jazz, soul and folk.
Born the North Side of Chicago, Illinois he learned piano from a young age and began his career singing in doo-wop groups in his teens, growing up with childhood friends, Curtis Mayfield, Major Lance and Jerry Butler. After a successful audition with Chess Records in 1962 Callier he recorded his debut single, Look at Me Now and then began performing in numerous folk clubs and coffee houses in Chicago, heavily influenced by the music of John Coltrane.
In 1964 he met Samuel Charters of Prestige Records and a year later recorded his debut album The New Folk Sound Of Terry Callier. The LP kicks off with an amazing rendition of 900 Miles, a traditional folk song first recorded and released in 1924 and subsequently recorded by a wealth of other musicians. Boasting a whopping 115 cover versions or more, artists such as Barbara Dane (love her version too), Bob Dylan, Dion, Bert Jansch and Woody Guthrie have recorded it; but for me (though I can’t claim to have heard every version) my favourite of all is Terry Callier’s. Above all, his exquisitely rich vocals and mellow guitar steals my heart every time, his slowed down composition/arrangement adding depth and atmosphere to what is a beautiful folk ballad…its gorgeous! Listen above.