Growing up in the Jim Crow South of rural Georgia during the 1930s and 1940s, Robert Lee “Chick” Willis has experienced more than his share of hardship, pain and injustice. It was a time when if you were black and forgot your place in life you were swiftly, often brutally reminded of it. It was a tragic reality which everyone of color in the South had to learn early in life for their own safety and survival. As Chick distinctly recalls those precarious times, “You had to walk a tightrope every day.” But instead of letting this harsh early existence dictate the rest of his life, Chick has been able to overcome the tremendous adversity and somehow rise above all the hatred and negativity, forging a life filled with hope—not despair, contentment—not regret, determination—not hesitation, and tolerance—not prejudice.
Chick is one of the lucky ones to have had a few very important crutches to help him through—a strong, supportive family, an unwavering faith, and the healing power of the blues, which became both his life’s passion and his life’s work—something that took him from the fields of Georgia to stages around the world.
Along the way he has taken all of his unique life experiences and the lessons he has learned and used his remarkable talents as a musician and songwriter to create music that is uplifting, thought-provoking and straight from the heart.
Perhaps Chick best sums up both his songwriting and the music he loves in his autobiographical Little Old Blues Man:
To many, Chick will forever be known as the Stoop Down Man—the king of the good-time party record. And this is true.
But Chick is also a very serious, deeply spiritual man and artist.
This is the complete Chick Willis. Compassionate. Philosophical. Intellectual. A true humanitarian to his core.
If you haven’t been fortunate enough to meet the man personally, let this serve as a fine introduction.