Melissa Fuell-Cuther broke ground as the first black woman author to write about the life of a famous black musician. Fuell-Cuther’s out-of-print biography, “Blind Boone: His Life and Achievements,” highlights Boone’s journey and gives testimonies about the struggles of many blacks during the Jim Crow era.
Little is known about the early life of Fuell-Cuther. She was born in Warrensburg, Missouri on May 15, 1886. After completing her primary education, she went on to receive a degree from Lincoln Institute State College. She graduated second in her class, only losing out to the top student because he was male.
After college, Fuell-Cuther’s went to Colorado in search of finding a job teaching. When she could not find work, she returned to Missouri where she was hired to teach first grade in Joplin and remained there for seven years.
Fuell-Cuther loved to sing and had been doing so since childhood. She joined the Blind Boone Concert Company. Like other singers before her, Fuell also worked as the company secretary. After becoming acquainted with her skills, John Lange, (Blind Boone’s manager) commissioned her to write a biography of John Boone, which, given Boone’s popularity and fame, the book was thought to become a bestseller. Two editions of the biography were published during her lifetime: one in 1915 by Burton Publishing Company of Kansas City, Missouri, and a later 1918 edition, published in Robbins, Tennessee, by the Evangel Publishing Society. In 1915, Fuell left the company to promote the book, but despite her efforts and Boone’s fame, the book did not sell well.