Friday, February 15, 2008 Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins (1849-1908)

[Blind Tom, The Black Pianist-Composer: Continually Enslaved; Geneva Handy Southall; Scarecrow Press (2002)]

Thomas Wiggins, the blind and autistic slave who was a musical genius, is profiled at and has been the subject of a post on AfriClassical, but a more concise overview of his life is also available on, which has published an article of approximately 400 words which makes a useful resource for Black History Month:

Thomas Greene Wiggins was born May 25, 1849 to Mungo and Charity Wiggins, slaves on a Georgia plantation. He was blind and autistic but a musical genius with a phenomenal memory. In 1850 Tom, his parents, and two brothers were sold to James Neil Bethune, a lawyer and newspaper editor in Columbus, Georgia. Young Tom was fascinated by music and other sounds, and could pick out tunes on the piano by the age of four. He made his concert debut at eight, performing in Atlanta.” Full Article

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