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Flora Molton

Flora Molton

Self-Taught Musician

Flora Molton (1908-1990) wasn't just a street musician; she was a sonic tapestry woven with threads of blues, gospel, and the vibrant spirit of Washington, D.C. Born with partial blindness, Molton found solace and power in music, captivating audiences with her unique blend of vocals, slide guitar, and infectious energy for over four decades.

Molton's musical journey began in her Virginia roots, shaped by the rich traditions of gospel and blues. Drawn to the bustling energy of D.C., she established herself as a fixture on street corners, most notably at 7th and F Streets NW, her powerful voice and captivating rhythm echoing through the urban landscape. She called her music "spiritual and truth music," reflecting her deep faith and authentic expression.

Despite limited vision and challenging circumstances, Molton persevered. She crafted her own instruments, including a mounted harmonica and a guitar played with a bottleneck slide. Her repertoire was vast, ranging from traditional gospel hymns to blues standards, all delivered with her raw, soulful vocals and captivating stage presence.

Beyond her captivating performances, Molton became a beloved figure in the D.C. community. She befriended passersby, her infectious smile and genuine spirit winning hearts across social and economic divides. Her resilience and talent earned her recognition, including performances at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the Library of Congress, and even a European tour.

Flora Molton's legacy is illuminated by her remarkable accomplishments, which spanned preserving musical traditions, inspiring resilience, and building community. As a guardian of blues and gospel music, Molton breathed life into these soulful sounds, sharing them with audiences in her own unique and impactful way. Despite facing personal challenges, she persevered with unwavering passion and dedication, becoming a symbol of hope and determination for many. Moreover, Molton's warm and open spirit allowed her to connect with diverse individuals, weaving her music into the very fabric of Washington D.C.'s social landscape and leaving an enduring mark on the community she so deeply touched.

Flora Molton's legacy transcends the street corners where she performed. Her music reminds us of the power of artistic expression, the strength of the human spirit, and the ability of music to bridge divides and build community. Her voice, echoing through the years, continues to inspire musicians and listeners alike, reminding us that even the most humble beginnings can birth extraordinary sounds and connect us to a shared humanity.

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