American bluesman (1897-1929). Born blind in Couchman, Texas, he learned how to play the guitar so he could earn a living. He moved to the Deep Ellum section of Dallas in 1917, where he played on street corners for spare change. His reputation as a performer attracted regular patrons when he played, and he earned enough money to support a wife and child.

Jefferson traveled throughout the South and up to Chicago, where he cut some records for Paramount and Okeh. He recorded country blues under his own name and spirituals under a pseudonym (Deacon L. J. Bates). His success persuaded Paramount to seek out other male blues artists (the blues scene in the 1920s was dominated by female singers like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Ida Cox).

Though he recorded for only three years, getting fewer than a hundred songs on tape, Jefferson is considered one of the most influential blues musicians, and his vocal and guitar styles have been imitated by many different artists. Some of his best known songs include "See that My Grave Is Kept Clean", "Jack O'Diamonds", and "Boll Weevil Blues".

There is no official death certificate for Jefferson. It's believed that he either died of a heart attack or that he froze to death in a Chicago snowstorm.