Blind Willie Johnson (January 25, 1897 – September 18, 1945) was an American gospel blues singer-guitarist and evangelist. His landmark recordings completed between 1927 and 1930 -- 30 songs in total -- display a combination of powerful "chest voice" singing, slide guitar skills, and originality that has influenced later generations of musicians. Even though Johnson's records sold well, as a street performer and preacher, he had little wealth or recognition in his lifetime. His life was poorly documented and left to speculation; however, overtime music historians such as Samuel Charters have uncovered more about Johnson and his five recording sessions.
Johnson's music experienced a revival which began in the 1960s, in large due to the effort by blues guitarist Reverend Gary Davis. Overtime, Johnson's work has become more commercially accessible through compilation albums such as Blind Willie Johnson 1927-1930 and The Complete Blind Willie Johnson, both efforts spearheaded by Charters. As a result, Johnson is credited as one of the most influential practitioners of the blues and his slide guitar playing, particularly on his widely-covered hymn "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground", is also highly praised. Other recordings by Johnson that have been interpreted on several different occasions include "Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed", "It's Nobody's Fault but Mine", and "John the Revelator".