Known as the 'Blues Doctor,' Drink Small is an African-American singer, songwriter, and blues artist. As a musician and teacher, Small has preserved the heritage of his community in South Carolina and has traveled around the county and abroad to share his unique blues styling and his deep bass voice. His style is drawn from the Piedmont blues tradition but also includes gospel, rhythm and blues, boogie-woogie, and Delta and Chicago style of blues.
Born in 1933 in Bishopville, South Carolina, Small grew up in a family of singers and musicians. He was a musician from a young age, having taught himself guitar and performing at house parties and at church. After high school he played guitar with the gospel group The Spiritualaires, even performing at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem. During this time, Small was named best gospel guitarist by Metronome.
In 1959 Small began to record and perform the blues, starting with the single "I Love You Alberta" on Sharp Records. He has toured nationally and internationally, performing in a host of historic venues such as the Chicago Blues Fest, the King Biscuit Festival, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, as well as two international world fairs. In addition to performing, he has also taught at music seminars throughout South Carolina.
In 1990 Small received South Carolina's Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, the state's highest award for lifetime achievement in the traditional arts. Small was featured on the cover of Living Blues, the renowned magazine on contemporary and legendary blues artists, in 1992. He was inducted into the South Carolina Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame in 1999 and in 2013 received the Bobby "Blue" Bland Ambassador for the Blues award from the Jus' Blues Foundation. He has received the key to the city of Columbia twice. A book about Drink Small's life, Drink Small, the Life & Music of South Carolina's Blues Doctor by Gail Wilson-Giarratano, was published in 2014 and funded in part by the South Carolina Arts Commission.
During his long career, Small has given back to both his local community and the larger tradition by mentoring younger performers and sharing his knowledge with students of all ages. Small has released seven albums over the course of his career and continues to perform.
“You Don’t Have to Be Funky” from the album, Drink Small Does It All, used courtesy of Bishopville Records and by permission of Drinktron Music (BMI).
“The United States Will Never Be the Same (Tribute to Barack Obama)” is from the EP of the same name.
“Glory, Glory,” which is traditional, composed and performed by Drink Small on the album, Drink Small Does It All and used courtesy of Bishopville Records and by permission of Drinktron Music (BMI).