Blind Willie Johnson was a gospel blues singer, evangelist and guitar player who sang and preached on the street corners of Beaumont Texas.
He was paid 50.00 for each of his usable recorded songs and accepted a bonus for signing the royalties of his songs away.
He is considered by many to be one of the greatest bluesmen even though he wasn't a blues performer in the sense of the word.
He was known for his deep gravely voice that he developed while performing in the daily sounds of street traffic so his voice would cut through the background noise. 
He was also a proficient slide guitar player who influenced the likes of Robert Johnson and Blind Willie McTell and is one of the greatest to play slide.
His songs have been covered by Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan, as well his recording of Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground was included in the Voyager probe.
Among the 27 songs selected for the Voyager Golden Record, "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" was chosen by NASA consultant Timothy Ferris because, according to Ferris, "Johnson's song concerns a situation he faced many times: nightfall with no place to sleep. Since humans appeared on Earth, the shroud of night has yet to fall without touching a man or woman in the same plight"