Bessford Hicks

Bessford Hicks, like his older brother Dee, inherited a vast knowledge of traditional songs from his father, Daniel Hicks. Daniel and his brothers were raised in the Fentress County backwoods as hunters, rather than farmers, and made little effort in any other endeavor, except singing and tale-telling. Those also became Bessford’s average joys, and he raised his family on the stories, lullabies, “dang-devil” songs, and love songs that had given the Hicks a widespread reputation in earlier years. Bessford probably knew as many songs as his brother Dee Hicks, who recorded some 400 for the Archive of Folk Culture in the Library of Congress. The only recorded example of his singing, a cassette taped by his daughter in 1973, reveals a relaxed, smooth singing style. Bessford died in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1976 at age 65. Bessford and his brothers, sisters, and children are featured on an album, The Hicks Family (TFS 104).