Nat Reese

Listen to “Blues Jumped a Rabbit”

Nat Reese

1924-2012, Salem, VA

One of WV’s few traditional blues artists, Nat was a nationally recognized blues singer and guitarist who lived in Princeton for nearly all of his life. Born in Salem, VA, his family moved to Wyoming County four years later, settling in Princeton in 1935. There, Nat was exposed to a wide range of musical styles, from big band jazz and popular music, to blues, polkas and country music.

He began playing the guitar as a young man and performed in various string bands that played throughout the coalfields in the days before racial integration. For a time, he led a group called the Starlight Gospel Singers, based in Itmann, Wyoming County. Later, Nat concentrated on blues and swing music, often appearing with renowned fiddler Howard Armstrong. Howard and Nat traveled and performed extensively, including several European tours, where they appeared in Switzerland, Belgium, France, and East Germany.

In addition to his many musical talents, Nat was also a gifted artist and a commercial sign painter. Nat Reese received the Vandalia Award in 1995 and the John Henry Award in 1988.