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Elizabeth Cotten

Release Date: 01/18/01
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 10 - Jan. 2001
00-18CTN (Elizabeth Cotten)

C. F. Martin is proud to honor the rich musical legacy of Elizabeth Cotten with the introduction of the 00-18CTN Elizabeth Cotten limited edition guitar. The 00-18CTN closely approximates the 00-18 Martins produced during the pre-war era, considered by many to be among the finest recording instruments ever made. A commemorative freight train inlay in pearl adorns the octave fret, and Elizabeth Cotten? signature is inlaid between the 19th and 20th frets. Each guitar will feature an interior label numbered in sequence and personally signed by Larry Ellis, Sr., Elizabeth Cotten? grandson, and Martin Chairman and CEO, C.F. Martin IV.

Few songs have demonstrated the lasting power and impact of Elizabeth Cotten? "Freight Train." Originally recorded by Cotten for her first album, "Freight Train" became an anthem of the 1960s folk revival. In addition, a version of the song by English singer Nancy Whiskey became a hit during Britain? skiffle movement in the late 1950s; an early influence on two future Beatles named John Lennon and Paul McCartney. But while "Freight Train" is Elizabeth Cotten? best known song, it is only a small portion of her rich musical legacy, one that C.F. Martin is proud to honor with introduction of the 00-18CTN Elizabeth Cotten limited edition model.

Born in 1895 near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Elizabeth Cotten taught herself to play both banjo and guitar by age 12, the same age at which she composed "Freight Train." Left-handed, Cotten turned the instruments "upside-down" and developed a hallmark fingerpicking style in which the melody was played on the treble strings with her thumb and the bass with two fingers. By her mid-teens, she had mastered an extensive repertoire of traditional tunes to go along with her original compositions.

Cotten married at age 15. Raising her daughter, earning a living, and other factors caused her to set music aside for nearly 40 years. Her remarkable talent might have remained undiscovered except for a chance encounter: while working as temporary Christmas help at a Washington, D.C. department store, she reunited a lost Peggy Seeger with her mother. Mrs. Seeger eventually hired Cotten to do housework, and the Seeger family soon discovered her guitar virtuosity and her treasure trove of songs.

All three of the Seeger children ?Pete, Mike and Peggy ?helped bring Cotten? music to the public, introducing many of her songs at their concerts. Mike Seeger recorded and produced her 1958 debut album, "Folksongs and Instrumentals with Guitar," released when she was well past 60 years old. Sometime during this period, she also acquired her treasured Martin 00-18, which she used throughout her professional career.

Beginning in 1960 and continuing until just before her death in 1987, Elizabeth Cotten became a major draw at clubs, concerts and folk festivals across the United States. She recorded three additional albums, the last of which, "Elizabeth Cotten Live!" was awarded a Grammy in 1985. Artists ranging from Peter, Paul and Mary to the Grateful Dead have covered her songs, and her music continues to captivate players and listeners alike.

The 00-18CTN Elizabeth Cotten limited edition model closely approximates the 00-18 Martins produced during the late 1930s and early 1940s, considered by many to be among the finest recording instruments ever made. Premium tonewoods are featured throughout: genuine mahogany back and sides and a bookmatched Sitka spruce top. These woods combine with the grand concert body, short 24.9-inch scale and hand-scalloped 1/4" top braces to give the 00-18CTN bright, balanced vintage tone. The size and scale also provide unmatched comfort and ease of playing.

Traditional Style 18 appointments on the 00-18CTN include tortoise-color top binding surrounding five plies of black and white purfling, a polished and beveled vintage tortoise-color pickguard, a "through-saddle" ebony belly bridge and "old style" rosette inlay with thin black inner and outer rings. Vintage toner on the top enhances the traditional look.

The genuine mahogany low profile neck also shows vintage heritage in its square, tapered headstock, "old style" Martin decal logo and Kluson-style tuners with nickel buttons. The unbound ebony fingerboard features large abalone dots at the 5th, 7th, 9th, and 15th frets, a commemorative "Freight Train" inlaid at the 12th fret, and Elizabeth Cotten? signature inlaid between the 19th and 20th frets.

The 00-18CTN features a beautifully polished nitrocellulose gloss lacquered body with a satin neck. This model will be setup with genuine bone nut and saddle, and strung with Martin SP phosphor bronze light gauge strings. Factory installed electronics are available at additional cost. A deluxe Geib?style hardshell case is included with each instrument.

Each Elizabeth Cotten Limited Edition model guitar will feature an interior label numbered in sequence and personally signed by Elizabeth Cotten? grandson Larry Ellis Sr., and Martin Chairman and CEO C. F. Martin IV.

The size of the edition plus a list of participating Martin dealers will be posted on the Martin website at: www.martinguitar.com.

This information will also be available from Martin customer service at (800) 633-2060 (USA calls only) or at (610) 759-2837.

 
 
 
 
 
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