G. B. Burt

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Burt's 2008 album

Grover "Dr. G. B." Burt, Jr (born January 30, 1937 in Birmingham) is a blues musician and songwriter based in Birmingham. Burt's songs focus on historical persons and events, such as the Civil Rights movement and Bo Diddley.

Burt's family moved to Portland, Oregon during World War II, where his father got work as a shipbuilder. Afterwards they moved back to Birmingham, then to Florida. While there, Burt began learning to box and play guitar from his uncle, Arthur Hubbard. After they moved back to Birmingham again, Burt continued training as a boxer. He and his father began tramping around the South and he eventually met trainer Ezzard Charles in Cincinnati and competed in a Golden Gloves tournament in 1954. He continued to travel alone, carrying his guitar and boxing gloves with him, taking odd jobs as a mechanic or driver.

Burt married in 1957 and settled in Detroit, Michigan in the early 1960s, working for the Ford Motor Company. He retired from boxing and sent for his family back in Birmingham, eventually raising seven children. He got interested in 12-string guitar playing when he caught a showing of the 1976 documentary Leadbelly at Detroit's Fox Theater. He found one in a pawn shop soon later. In the 1970s he left Ford to start his own towing and repair shop. In December 1979 Burt returned to Birmingham to care for his mother, who had suffered a heart attack. While here, he found out that he had cancer and stayed to receive treatment.

Through Adolphus Bell, Burt came to the attention of the Music Maker Relief Foundation, which has helped him pursue a professional music career. In early 2008 he recorded an album for Ardie Dean in Huntsville, but had to return to Detroit soon afterward due to the death of his daughter. That Fall he went on tour to Australia and built his own second 12-string out of a regular 6-string guitar.

In February, 2009, a group of middle school students from North Carolina met Burt at his North Birmingham home, where he performed, and the students did yardwork and painted his house.


  • G. B. Burt (2008) They Call Me Dr. Burt. Music Maker Foundation. MMCD 94


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