Born Joseph Goreed in Cordele, Georgia, on December 12, 1918, Joe came to Chicago with his family as a teenager. After gaining experience in a gospel singing group, he changed his name to Joe Williams and used his smooth baritone primarily in ballad singing. In a questionnaire for one of Leonard Feather’s jazz encyclopedias (the material is now at the Institute for Jazz Studies in Newark, NJ; our thanks to John Szwed for checking the files there), Red Saunders took credit for encouraging Joe Williams to sing the blues. Williams had worked many a night at the Club DeLisa with Red’s backing before Columbia saw fit to include him on a Red Saunders recording session. Even though Columbia and OKeh did not reap any major commercial success from the combination (Joe did not hit the big time until he went on the road with Count Basie at the end of 1954), the decision made perfect sense artistically. In June 1950, Red started recording for Columbia, this disc being the only one he released on that label.