Libba – The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten

Libba:  The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten

By:  Laura Veirs

Picture book biographies are very popular right now.  This biography is a lovely tribute to a talented folk musician who found success later in life.  Libba (Elizabeth) Cotton grew up in North Carolina at the end of the 19th century.  She taught herself to play using her brother’s guitar.  She was left-handed so she played it upside down and backwards, but it didn’t matter.  Many years passed after she wrote her first song “Freight Train” at age eleven, before she would have a career in music.  Libba has a chance encounter with Ruth Crawford Seeger, a well-known composer, who hired Libba as a housekeeper.  Spending time with Seeger rekindled Libba’s love of music and helped her launch her career in the music industry.  The message to never give up on your dreams will encourage readers.


The beautiful graphite illustrations set the mood for this inspiring story.  The author’s note at the back describes how the author became one of Libba’s biggest fans and includes information on where to find videos and recordings of Libba’s music.


Renee (Parr)

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