The story of my mom, an amazing soulful singer and performer who should have been a huge star.
The story that I am about to share with you is the story of Tess Williams. It isn’t the complete story but a condensed version for this cd packet. It is my attempt to try to introduce and outline the life of an amazing soulful singer and performer who should have been a huge star. This is not an easy task to but a heartfelt one. Tess Williams is my mom. We lost her this year to diabetes at the very young age of seventy-three.
The year was 1949. The war had been over for a couple of years and the country was trying to get back to a post-war normal. Army Private First Class James G. Williams (a “Yankee” from Southern Illinois, and a recent re-enlistee) had just been transferred from Camp Breckenridge, Ky. to Fort Campbell Ky.
A paratrooper, (6′ 5 1/2″ and skinny as a rail) He and his buddies headed into Nashville, Tn. to check out the bars & women. They walked into the “Paradise Club” in Bordeaux on the outskirts of Nashville on old Clarksville Hwy 41. On stage, in that smoke-filled club fronting a small combo was a captivating and engaging bluesy young white woman singing “Walkin Blues” and she was tearing it up! PFC Williams soon found out that her name was “Tess!” She was from East Nashville and performed at the “Paradise” on a regular basis. On that fateful night, my parents Jim & Tess Williams met. They’re lives would change from that night forward and would effect many more lives for many years to come.
Mary Odessa Knott was born dirt poor in Lincoln County Tn. Her father was of German descent and her mother was a local. After dating for two years, in 1951 Dad & Mom decided to get married. My sister Paula (the first born) arrived at Fort Campbell September, 11 1952. Soon after, my dad got orders to ship-out overseas. He was being sent to Linz, Austria. He had to go over with his unit ahead of wives & dependants. Somehow, my mom’s mother had talked mom into not going over seas. She had convinced her that it was too dangerous a place to take a child…