Bill Broonzy was born William Lee Conley Broonzy in Scott County, Mississippi, on June 26, 1883. Broonzy received only minimal schooling. Having to quit school to help his sharecropping family around the house, he learned how to play the fiddle from his uncle Jerry Belcher. At the age of fourteen, he started working for tips at country dances, picnics, and played for the church. During the years 1912-1917, he worked part time as a preacher and violinist.
In 1924, Broonzy moved to Chicago to start his music career. Under the guidance of Papa Charlie Jackson, Broonzy learned how to play the guitar. In the 1930’s Broonzy became known as one of the major artist on the Chicago Blues scene. During this time he performed with other top blues artist in Chicago - Memphis Minnie, Tampa Red, Jazz Gillum, Lonnie Johnson, and John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson.
In 1938, Broonzy performed at John Hammond’s famous Spiritual and Swing concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City. This was the first time that he had ever performed in front of a white audience. After the concert, people start calling him “Big Bill” Broonzy.
After the arrival of artists like Muddy Waters and the playing of the electric guitar, Broonzy's brand of blues was pushed aside. Rather than retire, he changed his style of music to folk blues. In 1957, William Lee Conley Broonzy was diagnosed with throat cancer. He continued to perform until he died on August 1958. MP3: Good Liquor Gonna Carry me Down