WALTER "WALE" LINIGER, a native of Switzerland,
fell for the Blues when he heard his first Lightnin' Hopkins record. After he graduated
from the University of Bern (Switzerland) he taught for eight years in the Swiss public
school system before he moved to the United States in 1982.
From 1984 until 1992 Liniger worked as a Research Associate
at the University of Mississippi's Blues Archive, directing the archive's oral history
project, "The Original Down Home Blues Show."
In 1984, a Folk Art grant by the Mississippi Arts Commission
allowed Liniger to start his apprenticeship with James Son Thomas (1926-1993), one of the
Delta's great bluesmen. During the following seven years the duo appeared at most major
Blues festivals throughout America and participated extensively in the statewide Arts in
Education program. This valuable experience, mentioned in the Gerard Herzhaft's Encyclopedia
of the Blues, was sobering and necessary: it allowed Liniger to re-evaluate his rather
intellectual notion of the Blues. In addition, Liniger continued his studies under Sonny
Boy Nelson (Eugene Powell), Jack Owens, Johnny Woods and Wilburt Lee Reliford, exponents
of traditional Mississippi Blues.
In 1993 Liniger became a Distinguished Lecturer with the
Institute for Southern Studies, University of South Carolina. In addition to teaching his
successful course ECHOES IN BLUES at the South Carolina Honors College, he continues to
perform on a regular basis. In recent years he often joins guitarist and National Folk
Heritage Award winner Etta Baker (b.1913) on stage.
In 2001 Wale Liniger became the first recipient of a stipend
at the International Jazz Archive in Eisenach, Germany. This residency was sponsored by
the U.S. Consulate General in Leipzig, Germany. It not only led to a number of
performances and workshops at a variety of educational institutions throughout Thuringia
and Saxony, but also to an extensive article about the Guenter Boas Collection, the core
collection of the archive.
Maybe it is because of his own multi-cultural background that
Liniger seeks to highlight the healing endeavors of artistic voices, maybe it is because
he believes in the creativity of the human mind when the heart is in trouble. In his
performances Wale Liniger not only examines some of the cultural roots and tonal lures of
the Blues through musical interpretations on harmonica, guitar and voice, but he also
explores the underlying issues of translation and exile.