Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
"Come on Coot Do That Thing" was the name of the song, and she did. Coot Grant was the main stage name of Leola B. Pettigrew, a classic blues singer and guitarist from Alabama whose legal name became Leola Wilson following her marriage to performing partner Wesley Wilson. The pair, who ironically were born in the same year, met and began performing together in 1905 and were wed seven years later. Pettigrew was already known as Coot Grant by this time, the name representing some kind of wordplay on the nickname "Cutie." She had been involved in show business since she was a child, beginning as a dancer in vaudeville. Prior to the beginning of the first World War she had already toured both Europe and South Africa, sometimes appearing under the name of Patsy Hunter. Her husband, who played both piano and organ, also performed under a variety of bizarre stage names including Catjuice Charlie, in a gross-out duo with Pigmeat Pete, as well as Kid Wilson, Jenkins, Socks, and Sox Wilson.
The husband and wife, billed as Grant & Wilson, Kid & Coot, and Hunter & Jenkins, appeared and recorded with top jazz artists such as Fletcher Henderson, Mezz Mezzrow, Sidney Bechet, and Louis Armstrong. They performed in musical comedies, vaudeville, traveling shows, and revues, and in 1933 appeared in the film Emperor Jones with the famous singer Paul Robeson. Their songwriting was certainly as important as these performing activities. The couple published some 400 songs, most famous of which is "Gimme a Pigfoot," one of classic blues singer Bessie Smith's grandest hits. There seemed to be no subject this songwriting pair wouldn't touch, as evidenced by titles such as "Dem Socks Dat My Pappy Wore" and the unfortunately unreleased "Throat Cutting Blues."
On her own, Grant also recorded country blues including some collaborations with guitarist Blind Blake in 1926. The careers of both she and her husband began to falter in the mid-'30s, with the pair returning to the studios only briefly in 1938, and again a decade later when Mezzrow hired them to perform and write material for his new King Jazz label. Grant kept performing following her husband's retirement in 1948, but eventually dropped so far out of sight that to date, no details have been discovered about her death. All of the material she performed, solo and in duo with Wesley Wilson, has been reissued on archive labels such as Document.