Became a state on..... December 10, 1817
Southern Genres..... Blues, Jazz, Country, Classical, Gospel, Spirituals, Southern Rock, Rock & Roll, Rhythm & Blues, Southern Hip-Hop, Pop
Museums..... Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, Grammy Museum Mississippi, Mississippi Gospel Music Awards
Mississippi has a depth of cultural richness that few regions can rival. Known as the “Birthplace of America’s Music,” Mississippi has literally shaped the course of modern music with its contributions to blues, jazz, rock, country and gospel. Mississippi writers helped define the character of 20th century American literature, and Mississippians continue to have a significant influence on the traditional and performing arts to this today.
Mississippi is a state located in the southern region of the United States, with part of its southern border formed by the Gulf of Mexico. Its western border is formed by the Mississippi River.
Near 10,000 BC Native Americans or Psleo Indians arrived in what today is referred to as the American South. Paleoindians in the South were hunter-gatherers who pursued the megafauna that became extinct following the end of the Pleistocene age. In the Mississippi Delta, Native American settlements and agricultural fields were developed on the natural levees, higher ground in the proximity of rivers. The Native Americans developed extensive fields near their permanent villages. Together with other practices, they created some localized deforestation but did not alter the ecology of the Mississippi Delta as a whole.
The first major European expedition into the territory that became Mississippi was that of the Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto, who passed through the northeast part of the state in 1540, in his second expedition to the New World.
Since the 1930s and the Great Migration, Mississippi has been majority white, albeit with the highest percentage of black residents of any U.S. state. From the early 19th century to the 1930s, its residents were mostly black, a population that before the American Civil War was composed largely of African slaves. In the first half of the 20th century, a total of nearly 400,000 rural blacks left the state for work and opportunities in northern and midwestern cities, with another wave of migration around World War II to West Coast cities. In 2010, 37% of Mississippians were African Americans, the highest percentage of African Americans in any U.S. state. Since gaining enforcement of their franchise in the late 1960s, most African Americans support Democratic candidates in local, state and national elections. Conservative whites have shifted to the Republican Party. African Americans are still a majority in many counties of the Mississippi Yazoo Delta, an area of historic settlement during the plantation era. Since 2011 Mississippi has been ranked as the most religious state in the country.
"Go, Mississippi" was written and composed by William Houston Davis (1914–1987) and copyrighted in 1962. The copyright was assigned in 1962 to the Jackson Board of Realtors, who recommended it to the Legislature.
It was adopted as the official state song by House Concurrent Resolution 67 on May 16, 1962, during the Regular Session as General Laws of Mississippi of 1962, Chapter 654. The Mississippi Legislature had selected it from two compositions, the other being "Mississippi, U.S.A." (© 1960), also composed by Houston Davis. The House members met with the Senate in a joint session to listen to both compositions performed by a professional dance orchestra with the composer on drums and the Hinds Junior College Hi-Steppers dancing. The band then swung into a chorus of "Dixie" and, according to the UPI, everyone rose.
The song was enthusiastically received in front of 41,000 fans at a formal dedication September 29, 1962, by Governor Barnett in Oxford, as performed by the Ole Miss Marching Band during a halftime of an Ole Miss–Kentucky football game. "Go Mississippi" is the same melody as "Roll with Ross," which Houston Davis composed under a commission by Ross Barnett (1898–1987) for use as a 1959 campaign theme song for governor.
The halftime was promoted, and is chronicled, as having been an anti-integration rally, led by Barnett, the day before the Ole Miss riot over the admission of an African American, James Meredith. The riot was not directly connected to the revised song, but its commission by the Governor — who was leading an official resistance to Federally mandated integration for Ole Miss — clouded the song's heritage. Governor Barnett had prevailed as an enthusiastic advocate for adopting his own campaign song as the official Mississippi State Anthem.
In 1976, Bill Alexander (né William Brooks Alexander, Jr., State Senator from 1960 to 1983, introduced a Senate Resolution to set-up a special committee of experts to receive compositions for consideration as a new official state song, including one titled "Mississippi" by William Shirley Haynie. In 1994, Charlie Pride, whose identity as a performing artist is linked closely with Mississippi culture, publicly expressed support of a group wanting to change it. In 2000, State Senator William Gardner Hewes introduced Senate Bill 2960 to replace the state song with "Mississippi" by Edward Owen Miller. However the bill died in committee. In 2003, State Senator Delma Furniss introduced Senate Bill 2217 to adopt "My Home Mississippi," by Delma Furniss, as the official state song. The bill died in committee. In 2011, songwriters Carolyn Sue Woods of Amory and John Riggs of Nashville led a concerted campaign promoting "I Miss Mississippi" as a new state song for Mississippi. In 2015, State Senator Robert L. Jackson, introduced 2 Senate Bills:
SB2177 to authorize two official state songs, keeping the existing song, "Go, Mississippi," and adding "My Home Mississippi"
SB2178 to adopt "My Home Mississippi" as the official state song
Both bills died in committee February 3, 2015.
Mississippi is best known as the home of the blues, which developed among the freed African Americans in the latter half of the 19th century. The Delta blues is the style most closely associated with the state, and includes performers like Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Willie Brown, Tommy Johnson, Ishmon Bracey, Bo Carter, Sam Chatmon, Mississippi John Hurt, Furry Lewis, Son House, Skip James, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Pinetop Perkins, and B.B. King ("The King of the Blues").
The fiddle and banjo are common folk instruments in Mississippi, which has also seen some development as a gospel, country music, and Appalachian folk music center. Country blues artist Robert Wilkins and Songster Jim Jackson of Hernando made influential recordings in the late 1920s-1930s. The Leake County Revelers' brand of folk music saw some national popularity late in the 1930s, at around the same time as Mississippi native Jimmie Rodgers innovated modern country music. McComb was the birthplace of Bo Diddley, a highly influential early rock and roll artist. R&B singer Rufus Thomas was born in Cayce. Electric blues singer and guitarist Little Milton was born in Inverness. Soul singer and songwriter Jerry Butler was born in Sunflower. Mississippi was also home to Malaco Records, a well-known indie R&B label. Southern rock band North Mississippi Allstars formed in Hernando in 1996. Alternative rock band 3 Doors Down, known for "Kryptonite" are from Escatawpa. They had 2 #1 albums on the Billboard 200 chart, like 3 Doors Down (album) in 2008. Elvis Presley from Tupelo had 18 #1 hits in the U.S. from 1956 to 1969
In the words of Christine Wilson the music called the blues that emerged from Mississippi has shaped the development of popular music in this country and around the world.
Turn on the radio. You might pick up some rock with some tough guitar riffs – or some rap. But put on Robert Johnson’s recording of “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom,” and you’ll hear it all – set down in the 1930s by a man who combined elements of the music he heard with the genius that he got from God knows where – maybe the devil, if you want to believe the legend.
And what about rap? Skip James, born Nehemiah Curtis James about 1902 in rural Mississippi near Bentonia, talks about “rappin’ along” in the 1920s. About the same time “Big” Willie Dixon, in Vicksburg, was writing his first song, “Signifying Monkey,” a piece straight out of the age-old convention of “signifying” – better known now as “rapping.”
The blues and Mississippi are synonymous to music lovers. The repertoire of any blues or rock band is full of songs, guitar licks, and vocal inflections borrowed from Mississippi bluesmen – from Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Tommy Johnson, and Son House to Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Joe Williams, Bukka White, and Furry Lewis – just to mention some of the early ones. A couple of generations later, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, James Cotton, and many others were still making Mississippi blues and sending it out all over the world.
As far as historians can tell, the blues were born in the Mississippi Delta, an elaboration on work chants, “sorrow” slave songs, and the lyrical and haunting “field hollers.” As early as the American Civil War, white soldiers noted a different music created by black soldiers – songs about marching and other toils of war in which they “extemporized a half-dissonant middle part.” These songs were direct precursors to the blues, if not the real thing already.
By the 1890s, the blues form had been set and the sounds of a distinctive new music began to be heard beyond the work camps. The new music was filled with the polyrhythms and tonalities of African music and bore the nuances of many different tribes. Black Americans had borrowed substantially from white man’s music too – its scale, its rich folk traditions, its instruments. The blues did not emerge from Africa; it was born out of two musical cultures – black and white – that were thriving and growing separately and together. The result of this large-scale mixing was music that was to be the basis of mainstream popular music for the entire 20th century.
The Delta blues is one of the earliest styles of blues music. It originated in the Mississippi Delta, a region of the United States stretching from Memphis, Tennessee, in the north to Vicksburg, Mississippi, in the south and from Helena, Arkansas, in the west to the Yazoo River in the east. The Mississippi Delta is famous for its fertile soil and for its poverty. Delta blues is regarded as a regional variant of country blues. Guitar and harmonica are its dominant instruments; slide guitar (usually played on a steel guitar) is a hallmark of the style. Vocal styles in Delta blues range from introspective and soulful to passionate and fiery.
Although Delta blues certainly existed in some form or another at the turn of the 20th century, it was first recorded in the late 1920s, when record companies realized the potential African-American market for "race records". The major labels produced the earliest recordings, consisting mostly of one person singing and playing an instrument. Live performances, however, more commonly involved a group of musicians. Current belief is that Freddie Spruell is the first Delta blues artist to have been recorded; his "Milk Cow Blues" was recorded in Chicago in June 1926. Record company talent scouts made some of the early recordings on field trips to the South, and some performers were invited to travel to northern cities to record. According to Dixon and Godrich (1981), Tommy Johnson and Ishmon Bracey were recorded by Victor on that company's second field trip to Memphis, in 1928. Robert Wilkins was first recorded by Victor in Memphis in 1928, and Big Joe Williams and Garfield Akers by Brunswick/Vocalion, also in Memphis, in 1929.
Son House first recorded in Grafton, Wisconsin, in 1930 for Paramount Records. Charley Patton also recorded for Paramount in Grafton, in June 1929 and May 1930. He also traveled to New York City for recording sessions in January and February 1934. Robert Johnson recorded his only sessions, for ARC, in San Antonio in 1936 and Dallas in 1937.
Subsequently, the early Delta blues (as well as other genres) were extensively recorded by John Lomax and his son Alan Lomax, who crisscrossed the southern United States recording music played and sung by ordinary people, helping establish the canon of genres we know today as American folk music. Their recordings, numbering in the thousands, now reside in the Smithsonian Institution. According to Dixon and Godrich (1981) and Leadbitter and Slaven (1968), Alan Lomax and the Library of Congress researchers did not record any Delta bluesmen or women prior to 1941, when he recorded Son House and Willie Brown near Lake Cormorant, Mississippi, and Muddy Waters at Stovall, Mississippi. However, this claim has been disputed, as John and Alan Lomax had recorded Bukka White in 1939, Lead Belly in 1933 and most likely others.
Scholars disagree as to whether there is a substantial musicological difference between blues that originated in the Mississippi Delta and blues from other parts of the country. The defining characteristic of Delta blues is instrumentation and an emphasis on rhythm and "bottleneck" slide guitar; the basic harmonic structure is not substantially different from that of blues performed elsewhere. Delta blues is a style as much as a geographical form: Skip James and Elmore James, who were not born in the Delta, are considered Delta blues musicians. Performers traveled throughout the Mississippi Delta, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee. Eventually, Delta blues spread out across the country, giving rise to a host of regional variations, including Chicago blues and Detroit blues.
Delta blues songs are typically expressed in the first person and often concern love, sex, the traveling lifestyle and its tribulations, sin, salvation and death. Several blues musicians were imprisoned in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman Farm, which is referred to in songs such as Bukka White's "Parchman Farm Blues" and the folk song "Midnight Special".
In big-city blues, women singers such as Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and Mamie Smith dominated the recordings of the 1920s. However, women rarely recorded Delta blues and other rural or folk-style blues. In Delta blues female performers often had some romantic connection to more notable male performers: Geeshie Wiley was reportedly linked with Papa Charlie McCoy, whose brother Kansas Joe McCoy was married to Memphis Minnie, and the seminal Charlie Patton sometimes played and recorded with his wife, Bertha Lee. It was not until late in the 1960s that women began to be heard in recorded performances at the level they had previously enjoyed. It was then that Janis Joplin arrived as the first female performer to achieve both accolades from her peers as a blues performer and crossover commercial success, reaching diverse audiences with a powerful and emotive vocal delivery. Other women influenced by Delta blues, who learned from some of the most notable of the original artists still living, include Bonnie Raitt, Rory Block, and Susan Tedeschi.
Many Delta blues artists, such as Big Joe Williams, moved to Detroit and Chicago, creating a pop-influenced city blues style. This was displaced by the new Chicago blues sound in the early 1950s, pioneered by Delta bluesmen Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Little Walter, harking back to a Delta-influenced sound, but with amplified instruments.
Delta blues was also an inspiration for the creation of British skiffle music, from which eventually came the British invasion bands, while simultaneously influencing British blues, which led to the birth of early hard rock and heavy metal. Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode stated that the group's album Delta Machine was inspired by Delta blues.
With the growth of the blues came the spread of a phenomenon known as the “juke joint.” In these makeshift buildings that served as social clubs, the blues developed and spread. Songs and lyrics were borrowed, adapted from musicians who traveled from joint to joint, and techniques and styles were copied and elaborated upon. Young bluesmen found mentors and left home to follow them in a life on the road.
The first Mississippian to emerge from the anonymous folk tradition was Charlie Patton. Born near Edwards about 1887, he moved to Dockery Plantation in the Mississippi Delta to work. He began playing around the Delta at juke joints, dances, fish fries, and house parties. During those years, 1897 to 1934, he traveled with another blues great, Son House, tutored the young Howlin’ Wolf, and inspired countless others.
Eddie “Son” House was born in Coahoma County in 1902. Often regarded as the quintessential blues singer, he did not begin performing until his mid-twenties, because he was first a preacher. Preaching was a powerful influence on his forceful singing style. In 1930 he recorded two songs for the Paramount label: “Preachin’ the Blues” and “Dry Spell Blues,” about a farming crisis in the Delta. Son House is famous for his bottleneck slide technique. This technique is characteristic of blues music – the musician uses the guitar as a second voice by sliding a bottleneck or other hard object along the strings to make a wailing sound. After he was rediscovered in the 1960s, House played for a decade to college audiences and at blues festivals.
The most potent legend in the blues was Robert L. Johnson. He was born near Hazlehurst and ran away from home as a teenager to learn guitar from Son House. Legend has it that Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his talent to play and sing the blues better than anyone else. He worked the Delta, then traveled the upper South and East. His recording sessions in 1936 and 1937 produced some of the richest music in the history of the blues: “Crossroads,” “Love in Vain,” “Hellhound on my Trail,” and “Dust My Broom,” among others. His guitar and vocal skills established a foundation on which generations of blues and rock musicians have been building ever since.
Tommy Johnson, like Robert Johnson (no relation), claimed he too had sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his amazing guitar skills. The story is an old one, with roots in voodoo and African lore, but one that is effective only when the storyteller’s skills are as extraordinary as those of Tommy Johnson or Robert Johnson. Tommy Johnson, known for his song “Canned Heat,” a name taken by the 1960s blues band, was an early guitar stuntman. His contemporary, Houston Stackhouse, reported, “He’d kick the guitar, flip it, turn it back of his head and be playin’ it. Then he’d get straddled over it like he was ridin’ a mule – pick it that way.”
When African-American musicians emigrated northward to cities like Chicago, they heard the music of tin pan alley and jazz. They began to amplify their instruments electrically and to add drums and even horns. The single bluesman was transformed into the blues band, and a new era had begun.
One of the first Mississippians to take the blues to Chicago was Big Bill Broonzy of Scott. He arrived there in 1920 and played “for chicken and chitlin at Saturday night rent parties.” By the late 1930s he was one of the most popular performers in the country and became a mentor to many Mississippi blues musicians who followed him north.
But Broonzy’s smooth “city blues” style was soon superseded; the urgency of the “new” blues, brought by Sonny Boy Williamson and Walter Horton, captured Chicago audiences.
The king of the Chicago blues was Muddy Waters. Born in Rolling Fork in 1915, Waters (McKinley Morganfield) set a new style for the blues. Recorded first by the Library of Congress in 1941 at Stovall Plantation (listen to the Muddy Waters recording), Muddy Waters by 1947 was making a name on Aristocrat (later Chess) Records. His “Hoochie Coochie Man” sold over 75,000 copies. “Rollin’ Stone” sold 80,000 copies and inspired Bob Dylan’s later song and the name of the 1960s rock band.
Howlin’ Wolf (Chester Burnett), born in West Point in 1910, started recording in Memphis with Sam Phillips. At home he had heard Mississippi country yodeler Jimmie Rodgers’s records and tried to imitate him. “I couldn’t do no yodelin’,” he said, “so I turned to growlin’, then howlin’, and it’s done me fine.” Wolf was picked up by Chess Records, which produced hits like “Spoonful” and “Evil Goin’ On.”
The source of most of the songs sung by Chess recording stars like Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters was “Big” Willie Dixon, born in Vicksburg in 1915. A talented bass player, record producer, and scout, in addition to songwriter, Willie Dixon is known as the granddaddy of the Chicago blues.
Harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite was the only white Chicago bluesman during the era to play Southside clubs with black bands. Growing up in Kosciusko, Musselwhite heard his father playing country music, but he gravitated to music of black bluesmen because “their music told the truth.”
Many other Mississippi blues greats relocated to Chicago: James Cotton, Otis Rush, Otis Spann, Sunnyland Slim, Jimmy Dawkins, Albert King, Big Joe Williams, Magic Sam, and Elmore James.
Through the blues, Mississippians communicated support, hope, even joy – in field hollers, across crowded juke joints and rural barn dances, and across the wires to fans tuning in their favorite radio shows. Mississippi musicians looked to music for much of the joy in their lives. Maybe that is the real legacy of their music.
Jazz tenor saxophonist Lester Young was born in Woodville. Double-bassist Milt Hinton and pianist Hank Jones were born in Vicksburg. Pianist Mose Allison was born in Tippo. Alto saxophonist and bandleader Jimmie Lunceford was born in Fulton. Alto saxophonist Captain John Handy was born in Pass Christian. Tenor saxophonist Teddy Edwards, drummer Freddie Waits, trumpeter Charlie Allen, and singer Cassandra Wilson were born in Jackson. Trumpeter Gerald Wilson was born in Shelby. Cornetist, guitarist, and singer Olu Dara was born in Natchez. Tenor saxophonist Brew Moore was born in Indianola. Trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith was born in Leland. Tenor saxophonist Frank Wright was born in Grenada. Drummer Charles "Bobo" Shaw was born in Pope. Pianist and singer Cleo Patra Brown and drummer Alvin Fielder were born in Meridian. Double bassist Eddie Jones was born in Greenwood. International Sweethearts of Rhythm formed in Piney Woods.
Justin Scott, better known by his stage name Big K.R.I.T., is a southern hip-hop musician and record producer from Meridian.
Lavell Crump, better known by the stage name David Banner, is a rapper, record producer & occasional actor. Banner was born in Jackson and graduated from Southern University. He started his music career as a member of the rap duo Crooked Lettaz before going solo in 2000 with Them Firewater Boyz, Vol. 1 and signed to Universal Records in 2003. With Universal, Banner released four albums: Mississippi: The Album (2003), MTA2: Baptized in Dirty Water (2004), Certified (2005), and The Greatest Story Ever Told (2008).
Nate Dogg was born in Clarksdale and lived there until age 14. He is known as a member of the group 213 and for his many collaborations including being featured on 50 Cent's #1 Hot 100 hit "21 Questions" in 2003.
Hill country blues (also known as North Mississippi hill country blues or North Mississippi blues) is a regional style of country blues. It is characterized by a strong emphasis on rhythm and percussion, steady guitar riffs, few chord changes, unconventional song structures, and heavy emphasis on the "groove" - more affectionately known as "the hypnotic boogie."
The hill country is a region of northern Mississippi bordering Tennessee. It lies in the counties of Marshall, Panola, Tate and Lafayette and straddles the ecoregions of the North Hilly Plain (Red Clay Hills or North Central Hills), the Loess Plains, and Bluff Hills. The hills have poor agricultural soil and wide forested areas, which led to the development of a lumber industry but only small farms. Holly Springs and Oxford, Mississippi, are often cited as centers of hill country music. The style is regarded as distinct from the blues of the Mississippi Delta, which lies west of the hill country. An annual picnic is held to celebrate the region and its music.
Musical scholars have traced the style's affinity for percussion to influences from West Africa, brought to the American colonies by African slaves. Before the American Civil War, planters restricted slaves' access to drums and other percussion instruments, fearing the use of drums in arousing rebellion. The music writer Robert Palmer believed that after the Civil War, African Americans quickly renewed their long-suppressed percussion traditions: “the passage of the Black Codes, which in most states actually predated the Revolutionary War, did not automatically stamp out all slave drumming”.
The style could not have developed in the first place if there hadn’t been a reservoir of polyrhythmic sophistication in the culture that nurtured it. David Evans, an anthropologist who has done extensive fieldwork in the hill country of northern Mississippi, recorded black families there who play polyrhythmic music in their homes on chairs, tin cans, and empty bottles. He reports that among the area’s older black fife and drum musicians, making the drums “talk it”—that is, playing rhythm patterns that conform to proverbial phrases or the words of popular fife and drum tunes—"is considered the sign of a good drummer." This enduring tradition of folk polyrhythm played an important part in the development of Mississippi blues.
Fife and drum blues is an American folk music form derived from country blues, martial music tradition, and African rhythms. It is performed typically with one lead fife player and a troop of drummers. Unlike a drum corps, the drum troop is loosely structured. As such, a fife and drum band may have a variable number of snare, tom, and bass drum players. A large military-style bass drum is preferred. Fife and drum performances are often family affairs held at reunions, summer community picnics, and on holidays.
Pre-American Civil War military fife and drum bands provided a rough framework which black musicians would fill with African and African-American influences to create a new music. Black fife and drum music persists in a stretch of Southern states stretching from northwest Georgia to an area south of Memphis, namely North Mississippi. The music is infused with Euro-American military drum tradition and distinctly African polyrhythms, talking drum influence, and call and response patterns. Performers play blues, marches, minstrel show pieces, popular music, instrumentals, and spirituals such as "When the Saints Go Marching In", "When I Lay My Burden Down", "My Babe" and "Sitting on Top of the World". A "march" becomes more of a swaying dance, sometimes led by a dancer, and singing comes in sporadic shouts, whoops, and moans from the different players. While spirituals are sometimes played, gatherings of drum and fife music are not religious in nature and not held on Sundays or in church.
Alan Lomax first recorded black fife and drum music in 1942. He found a group, including Sid Hemphill, near Sledge, Mississippi consisting of a cane fife, two snare drums, and a bass drum. These same musicians constituted themselves as a string band, using violin, banjo, guitar, and bass drum, and also incorporated quills.
Mississippi is properly famous as the home of the blues and of the first star of rock and roll. It is also the home of Jimmie Rodgers, described by many as “The Father of Country Music.” Rodgers had two other nicknames during his career, “The Singing Brakeman,” which referred to his work on trains, and “America’s Blue Yodeler,” which described one of his distinctive contributions to country music.
In 2006 when the Mississippi Blues Trail was still in development, Malcolm White told the Mississippi Business Journal he thought a similar trail honoring the state’s country music heritage was a “distinct possibility.” Four years later, the Mississippi Legislature ended all doubt and the Mississippi Country Music Trail was born. Today, the trail is comprised of 25 markers and is still growing.
While the establishment of the Mississippi Country Music Trail was a team effort, one backer offered some high-profile support. In 2009, country recording artist and Mississippi native Marty Stuart personally lobbied the Mississippi Legislature for the formation of the Mississippi Country Music Trail. Stuart, who was born and raised in Philadelphia, Miss., would officially announce the trail on March 1, 2010, during the Governor’s Conference on Tourism and was present when the first marker, honoring Elvis Presley, was unveiled in Tupelo.
As with White, who now serves as the state’s lead tourism official with the Mississippi Development Authority, Stuart told the MBJ the success of the Mississippi Blues Trail was a major factor in his backing for the Mississippi Country Music Trail.
“Absolutely it was a factor,” said Stuart, a multi-Grammy Award winner who began his professional career as a teenager playing in Lester Flatt’s bluegrass band and was Johnny Cash’s guitarist (and son-in-law) before starting his successful solo career. “I felt if it worked for the blues, it would work for country music, too.”
Stuart added that the common heritage shared by the blues and country music was another plus, and he hopes both trails are telling that story.
“Like blues, country is the music of the common man and woman, and has as its foundation the church,” said Stuart, who now has a marker on the trail. “My wife (Country Music Hall of Fame member Connie Smith) calls country music a ‘cry of the heart.’ That’s the story I hope visitors are taking away from the Mississippi Country Music Trail.”
Based off the design of the markers on the Mississippi Blues Trail, Mississippi Country Music Trail markers are an attractive burgundy and include not only text but also images and icons.
The markers stretch across the state from the hills of Northeast Mississippi (Elvis Presley, Mac McInally, Tammy Wynette) and the Delta (Conway Twitty, Charley Pride, Ben Peters, Hank Cochran, Johnny Russell, O.B. McClinton) to the Piney Woods and the Coast (Bob Ferguson, Carl Jackson, Elsie McWilliams, Jesse Rodgers, Jimmie Rodgers, Marty Stuart, Leake County Revelers, Moe Bandy, Sparta Opry).
For more on the Mississippi Country Music Trail, including a map with driving directions, as well as information on concerts, festivals and other country music-related events, visit www.mscountrymusictrail.org
There are six classic forms of American popular music; jazz, the blues, bluegrass, soul, rock 'n' roll, and country and western.
With the exception of bluegrass and country and western, the Mississippi valley is the birthplace of them all. Like American culture in general, American music has evolved out of the different traditions that reached the New World from the old. But out of all the different types of music that reached the New World - from England, Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, Africa and many other places - one was to have a particularly significant impact: African music. While European influences provided melody and a lyric tradition, African influences added a new sense of rhythm and new harmonies, which were to give rise to several new forms of music that were different from anything European.
New American forms of music developed among the slave communities working in the cotton fields near the mouth of the Mississippi; Christianized slaves developed gospel music and Negro Spirituals, which soon became popular far beyond the rural states of the South.
Following emancipation, Blacks had much more opportunity to develop their musical talents, and many did exactly that, adding instrumentation to the essentially vocal tradition of the spiritual.
From the Spanish musical tradition they added the guitar, a popular instrument in the southern states which had been originally colonized by the Spanish. From a more general European tradition they added brass instruments such as trumpets, which were popular with the marching bands used at all kinds of ceremonial events in the American states.
It was thus in the late nineteenth century that two new forms of American music began to develop, both of them in the Mississippi valley.
Rock ’n’ roll is born in Mississippi 60 years ago: In the spring of 1951 at The Riverside Inn in Clarksdale, 19-year-old Ike Turner and Jackie Brenston rehearse what is largely considered the first ever rock ’n’ roll song. Legend has it that their amplifier was damaged en route to Clarksdale on Highway 61 and stuffed with newspapers to fix it. Back in Memphis, producer Sam Phillips loved the new distorted sound and recorded “Rocket 88.”
Elvis Presley live in Clarksdale! In 1954, with rock and roll history in the making, Elvis plays the Civic Auditorium in Clarksdale, gaining many new fans and followers in the Mississippi Delta. He returns and performs another show with Scotty Bill and others in 1955. An ad in the Clarksdale Press Register read: “Here’s Elvis Presley in Person! “That’s All Right Mama” – “Blue Moon” – Other Hits! Two Hours of Fun!” We’d pay much more than a dollar to see that show today!
“Blue Suede Shoes” and Merigold High School thanks to Larry Speaks, we know firsthand of this neat nugget in our rock history. The Merigold native writes in his autobiography, Speaking Out: “When we were raising money for our senior class trip to Washington, I tried to get Elvis to play at our high school. I called his manager, Bob Neal…but Elvis was already too big by that time. But Neal offered us a double-barreled show: Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash. Perkins had just come out with “Blue Suede Shoes.” We sold out the auditorium—about four hundred people were there—and raised $400 for our trip.”
The Rolling Stones step in Muddy Waters on that fateful day in 1962, when Keith Richards bumps into Mick Jagger on a train in England, it’s what’s under Mick’s arm, his American music with roots in the Delta, that Richards salivates over—and they make an instant connection. Richards writes in his autobiography Life, “You get in a carriage with a guy…who’s got The Best of Muddy Waters under his arm, you are gonna hit it off.” And in another seriously cool moment, they name their band after the first track, “Rollin’ Stone.” Not too shabby for a boy from Rolling Fork.
The Beatles land in America on February 7th, 1964, four lads from Liverpool step off a Pan Am Yankee Clipper at JFK International Airport. They were met by throngs of bemused reporters and obsessed fans. As the story goes, a reporter asked the young Brits, “What are you most looking forward to seeing in America?” John Lennon replied, “Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters.” Another reporter supposedly asked, “Muddy Waters? Where’s that?” Paul McCartney laughed and remarked that Americans didn’t know their own heritage.
Dylan delves into Mississippi in 1962, a young folk singer named Bob Dylan writes “Oxford Town,” a song about the riots on the Ole Miss campus when black student James Meredith was being admitted to University of Mississippi. Dylan joins a civil rights gathering in Greenwood in 1963, following the murder of Medgar Evers. In 1965, he releases Highway 61, an album connecting his birthplace of Duluth, Minnesota, to the birthplace of the blues via Highway 61.
Garage rock bands rise to fame the Gants, the Greenwood, Mississippi, quartet rooted in the Mississippi Delta’s prolific garage rock scene, go on tour with The Animals and release a smash hit with their lively cover of Bo Diddley’s “Road Runner.” Their fascination with the Fab Four forever labeled them as “the Beatles of the Delta.” A handful of other Delta garage rock bands would also make rock history.
Bobbie and Billie Joe the summer of ’67: “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry plays over and over all summer long, having local teens wondering, Who was Billie Joe McAllister that jumped off the Tallahatchie bridge?
Carollo climbs the charts with garage rock roots in Leland, Mississippi…“Don’t Pull Your Love” (out on me, baby) by Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds hits the Billboard Top 100 charts in 1971.
Led Zeppelin breaks the levee in the early 1970s, Led Zeppelin records “When the Levee Breaks,” a blues song originally written by Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy about the 1927 flood. A “moment” we’ve been reminded of all too recently.
Turn it up! Skynyrd rocks Cleveland how cool is this? Back in the early ’70s, Lynyrd Skynyrd played a Cleveland, Mississippi, gig, right on Highway 61, where the Bolivar County Expo Building is today. Ed King, the legendary guitarist of “Sweet Home Alabama” fame, really only remembers that “it was HOT.” In recent years, Ed and his wife Sharon returned to that same venue, “where y’all have that infamous Italian Festival,” Ed says. They are friends of and regular visitors to the Delta, where a dinner at Doe’s Eat Place is never optional. “I like how they’re not afraid to pour the cooked grease back over the steaks,” Ed says. “It’s the best steak dinner on the planet.” And the photo’s on the wall to prove it.
Muddy waltzes on stage with The Band as huge fans of The Last Waltz, the concert DVD of The Band’s 1976 farewell concert, we always think it’s a “cool moment” when Muddy Waters walks on stage to jam with them. Martin Scorcese made the event into a documentary, one of the greatest of all time in our book.
Stevie Ray’s surprise Blues Fest performance September, 1984: True rock ’n’ roll fans in the Mississippi Delta will never forget the “moment” when guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan shows up, as rumored, and sets the stage on fire at the Delta Blues Festival! Mississippi Public Broadcasting captured footage, and if you surf around the internet, you’ll see where several of fans have posted the set list.
Paul and Super Chikan Paul Simon releases Graceland with the opening line to the title track: “The Mississippi Delta was shining like a national guitar…” It won a 1987 Grammy for Album of the Year. A decade later, Paul Simon walks into Bluesberry Bakery in downtown Clarksdale (with his son, who was volunteering locally) where James “Super Chikan” Johnson is playing. Enthralled, Simon purchases two of Chikan’s handmade “chikantars.”
Z.Z. Top claims Muddy Waters as their “spiritual godfather” when Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top gets wind that the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale is in need of funding, a press conference is held in Clarkdale at the Carnegie Library and the band pledges their support of the museum. What’s even cooler is that with a plank of cypress from Muddy’s cabin on Stovall Plantation, the band has the “Muddywood” guitar made, takes it on tour and later donates it to the museum.
Love comes to town Bono and B.B. King record the blues-infused rock duet “When Loves Comes to Town” for U2’s 1988 album, Rattle and Hum. B.B. King performs the popular song in Indianola’s Fletcher Park at his annual Homecoming Concert for a new generation of blues fans.
Walking into Clarksdale Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame name their 1998 studio album Walking into Clarksdale, after the Mississippi Delta town known for the Delta blues. They pay a visit soon after the release.
Costello records in Clarksdale Elvis Costello records The Clarksdale Sessions at Jimbo Mathus’s Delta Recording Service in downtown Clarksdale. Around the corner, the rock legend buys guitars from Ronnie Drew at Bluestown Music.
Clapton and the Delta Blues ric Clapton collaborates with B.B. King for Riding with the King, which won a 2000 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 2000. A few years later, Clapton covered many of the songs Robert Johnson recorded in his lifetime in Me and Mr. Johnson. And the ‘cool moment’ for Jim Dollarhide, who filmed Clapton in Miami in an interview for the B.B. King Museum, was when Clapton said, “B.B. is the master, the grand master.”
Bonnie honors Fred on May 7, 2009, Bonnie Raitt attends the Fred McDowell Mississippi Blues Trail Marker Ceremony in Como, Mississippi.
Planted in the Delta on one of his many jaunts to the Mississippi Delta, Robert Plant shows up for the unveiling of the Mississippi Blues Trail Marker (November 2009) citing the Tutwiler Depot as the Birthplace of Blues where W.C. Handy first heard the blues being played in 1903 while waiting for the train to Clarksdale. Addendum: Robert Plants headlines the 25th Annual Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival in downtown Clarksdale on August 11, 2012.
John Mayer goes down to the Crossroads in November 2009, John Mayer releases Battle Studies featuring the Robert Johnson cover song, “Crossroads.”
White Stripes last album the White Stripes release their final concert as a live album, Live in Mississippi, from Southaven, paying tribute to Delta legends such as Robert Johnson, Son House and Lead Belly.
And the Grammy goes to…Cleveland! yes, it’s true. Our hometown of Cleveland will be the location of the new Grammy museum, the only one of its kind outside of California. Why here? Native Mississippians have received more Grammys than those from any other state in the country. The proposed 20,000-square-foot, 12 million dollar project, is projected to be built near Delta State University.
Goodness gracious, Great Balls of Fire! Relaxed, polite and appearing anything but a Mean Old Man (his most recent album), the legendary Jerry Lee Lewis rocks the cover of Delta Magazine’s July/August 2011 issue. The rock ’n’ roll pioneer granted an interview that revealed his softer side from his North Mississippi ranch.
Delta Magazine July/August 2011
Afroman (born Joseph Foreman) Hattiesburg, MS
Akers, Garfield (blues guitarist) 1900-1958, Brights/Hernando
Aldridge, Tommy - (drummer) born August 15, 1950, in Jackson, raised in Pearl, MS, graduated from Pearl High School in Pearl, Mississippi, in 1968. Drummer for Black Oak Arkansas (1973-1977), Whitesnake, and Ozzy Osbourne's Band, considered veteran heavy metal and hard rock drummer and pioneer of double bass drumming
Alexander, John (New York Metropolitan Opera star) Meridian, Mississippi
Allison, Mose (jazz pianist and songwriter), Tippo, MS, winner of 2012 Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts Lifetime Achievement.
Allman Brothers Band Johanny Johanson, born John Lee Johnson, Ocean Springs, MS
Ames, Abie "Boogaloo" pianist and singer (Greenville, MS) died 2002, see also Eden Brent
Andy Anderson and the Rolling Stones --lead singer of original Rolling Stones, rock and roll group formed in Starkville in 1955, You Shake Me Up
Anderson. Jimmy (Natchez) 1950
Ashford, Mandy - singer,model, born March 16, 1979 ,(member of all girl singing group innosense with Britney Spears) Ashford grew up in Clinton, Mississippi, was a member of the Attache show choir along with high-school friend Lance Bass with whom she also shared a vocal coach. Bass recommended Ashford to Lou Pearlman, and she was selected to join the band innosense. Since then, Ashford has modeled in several publications, including Playboy. She has also served as a spokes model for Swisher cigars, Miller Lite, Samson Technologies and currently Thompson Pump.
Attaway, William Alexander (novelist and composer of 500 songs including Day-O Banana Boat Song) Greenville, 1911-1986
Applebaum, Mark (jazz pianist and composer of electronic music), Starkville, MS
Atwood, George (bass player for Buddy Holly) 1920- present, born in Alabama but moved to Meridian, MS, at age 5. He also lived in Quitman in Clarke Co, MS, his father and step-mother are both buried in Mississippi. George died March 27, 2005
Austin, Bryan (country music) Pass Christian, MS 1967
Azar, Steve (country) Greenville, MS "Waitin' on Joe" 2003
Babbitt, Milton (influential composer and music educator), Jackson, MS
Bailey, Dennis (operatic tenor and member of New York Met)
Ball, Earle Poole (country, pianist from Marion County, MS) 1940, Columbia
Ballard, Glen (Natchez, MS) 1953
Bandy, Moe (Marion R.) (country music singer and songwriter) 1944
Band Perry (sibling singers) Ridgeland, MS., family moved to Mobile, Alabama, and eventually, to Greeneville, Tennessee. Kimberly Perry was born on July 12, 1983; Reid on November 17, 1988; and Neil on July 23, 1990. In 2008, they were discovered by Garth Brooks' manager Bob Doyle, who helped them make recordings that were sent to Republic Nashville recording company. All three siblings wrote their first recorded release Hip to My Heart, and Kimberly wrote If I Die Young, which reached No. 1 on the coiuntry music chart and No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their second album Pioneer was recently released.
Banner, David (real name Lavell Crump) rapper, Jackson, MS. Grammy winner
Barnes, Booba (blues), Greenville, MS
Barnes, Clay Meridian (guitarist for Steve Forbert on Nemporor Records in NYC, works in studio and tours with Forbert, also played and recorded with Willie Nile from NYC and opened for "The Who," currently owns Point Recording in Meridian, has produced, recorded, engineered, mixed and mastered several CD's with High Cotton Records
Barnes, Prentiss (rock n' roll--member of The Moonglows) Jackson, MS
Barrett, Bucky (acoustic and electric guitarist and composer) Canton, 1943
Barton, Dee (composer, esp. for Stan Kenton. and Starkville High School graduate), born 1937 in Houston, MS, grew up in Starkville, MS, died 2001 in Jackson
Bass, Lance (singer originally with NSYNC) Laurel, MS, 1979
Bates, Jeff (Sandy Hook, MS) signed with RCA Records in 2002 wih whom he recorded two albums: Rainbow Man in 2003 and Leave The Light On in 2006—plus seven charted singles: “The Love Song,” “Rainbow Man,” “I Wanna Make You Cry,” “Long, Slow Kisses,” “Good People,” “No Shame” and “One Second Chance, ” now with Black River Music Group
Bean, Terry "Harmonica" (blues), Pontotoc,
Beckett, Frederic Lee (first great modern jazz trombonist) Nettleton, MS
Bell, Carey (blues) Macon, MS, 1936
Big Time Sarah blues, Coldwater, MS
Blackman, Bruce Greenville, Mississippi, went to MSU, song writer and singer, in mid-60s he formed Eternity’s Children, had a top 100 hit with Mrs. Bluebird in 1968 and appeared on American Bandstand, left the group and moved to Atlanta in 1969, in 1972 formed “Mississippi,” in 1974 joined a group called “Extravaganza" with Bo Wagner, vocalist Elgin Wells, keyboardist Sloan Hayes, drummer David Snavely and bassist Jimmy Cobb, in 1975 Private Stock Records, a NYC company, signed his group Starbuck to a single deal for Moonlight Feels Right, (written by multi-talented vocalist / keyboardist / producer Bruce Blackman). It rose to the top of the national and international charts, selling over 3 million copies, Everybody Be Dancin' was also a top chart song, Blackman serves as CEO of his own music publishing and production companies and is producing an album project with his daughter Sarah and several other artists, now Atlanta-based.
Blackwood, James and the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, (gospel) Ackerman, MS
Blakney, Andrew "Andy" (jazz trumpeter), Quitman, 1898
Billington, Johnnie Clarksdale, MS (blues) born Crowden, MS
Blailock, Steve (jazz guitarist)
Blind Melon (hard rock group included three Mississippians: Glen Graham, drummer from Columbus; Brad Smith, bass guitarist, Columbus; and Thomas Stevens, guitarist, born in West Point, MS) 1993-1996
Blue, Big Daddy Michael Port Gibson, plays with swamp boogie band called The Wee Hours
Boyd, Eddie Riley (piano blues, Clarksdale, MS) born in Stovall, 1914, died in Finland
Boyd, Jimmy 1939-2005 (McComb, MS) child singer of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (hit made at age 13), grew up on ranch near Los Angeles, played guitar, appeared in situation comedies Bachelor Father and Date with the Angels in 1950's and 1960's, signed with recording studio Columbia, first hit was country song The Angels Are Lighting (God's Little Candles)
Bracey, Ishmon (blues) Byram, 1901-1970
Bradford, Bobby Lee (jazz trumpeter) Cleveland, MS, 1934
Bramlett, Delaney Ponotoc, Mississippi
Brenson, Jackie Clarksdale, 1930-1979 (rock and roll) Rocket 88
Brent, Eden (see also Boogaloo Ames) Greenville
Brewer, Jimmy (blues), Brookhaven, MS
Brown, Andrew (blues) Jackson, MS
Brown, Donnie "Downtown" (blues) Greenville, MS, Band called the Candy Shoestring which opened for Ted Nugent, Rare Earth ,Blues Image, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band,and played the 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival. Started the Mississippi Delta Festival, which sparked the Mississippi Delta Blues Festival. Other band members included brother Jerry Brown and Thomas "boogie" Hobart. Stone placed for Brown on Walnut Street in Greenville along with other blues greats. Played bass with Willie Foster and recorded with him on "Live at Airport Grocery." Also recorded with Eden Brent on her album "Something Cool."
Brown, Kenny guitarist, born 1953, lives in Nesbit, Mississippi, new CD, Stingray released on Fat Possum/Epitaph Records, first CD, Goin Back to Mississippi, released on Plumtone Records, played with R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, played Boxcar Blues in movie Big Bad Love by Mississippi writer Larry Brown
Brown, Richard Jess (jazz) Jackson, 1956
Brown, William (opera) tenor, Jackson, MS
Brown, Willie (blues) Clarksdale, MS
Bryant, Bobby (jazz) Hattiesburg 1934
Buffett, Jimmy (singer, songwriter and author) Pascagoula, MS, 1946
Buford, George "Mojo" (blues harmonica) Hernando, MS, 1929
Burnett, Chester A. (see Howlin' Wolf) West Point, White Station, Clay County, MS (1910-1976
Burns, Little Eddie (blues) Belzoni, MS
Burnside, R. L. (blues) Oxford, MS, 1926--September 1, 2005
Burton, Aron (Senatobia, Mississippi)
Burton,Larry (Coldwater, Mississippi), 1951
Butler, Jerry "The Iceman" (rock and roll singer of 65 albums, rhythm and blues) Sunflower County, 1939, formed The Roosters, also politician
Cage, Butch (blues fiddle player) Hamburg, MS
Callicott, Joe (Mississippi Joe Callicott) Nesbit, MS
Cain, Julius "Rasheed Abdullah" 1932
Campbell, Kate (blues to funk) (grew up in rural Mississippi towns--Sledge)
Campbell, Little Milton (blues) Inverness, MS, 1934
Cannon, Ace aka John Henry Cannon, Jr., saxophone (May 5, 1934, in Grenada, Mississippi)
Cannon, Gus (Banjo Joe) Red Banks, MS 1884-1979
Canton Spirituals (gospel) Canton, MS, founded by Harvey Watkins, Sr.
Carlock, Keith (Clinton, Ms) drummer for Sting and Steely Dan
Carollo, Joe Frank (Leland, MS) played with Joe Frank and the Knight, then as member of trio with Dan Hamilton and Tommy Reynolds, Don't Pull Your Love made the top five in 1971 and "Fallin' in Love" hit number one four years later. Hamilton, Joe Frank Carollo and Tommy Reynolds had previously played in the T-Bones. Their instrumental "No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In)," which began life as an Alka Seltzer jingle, made it to number 3 on Billboard's music chart.
Carr, Sam (blues drummer) Friars Point, MS
Carter, Bo (Armentor) also known as Bo Chatmon (Chatmon family string band) blind, 1893-1964, Bolton, MS, sometimes member of The Mississippi Sheiks, a fiddle and guitar band that included brothers Lonnie and Sam and Walter Vinson
Carter, Brown member of the Southland Quartet from Corinth, Mississippi
Vikki Helms Carter, Tupelo, MS
Cartwright, George Midnight and Belzoni, Mississippi, composer, jazz saxophonist, bandleader, graduate of Mississippi State University, now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota
Caston, Leonard "Baby Doo" (Big Three Trio pianist with Willie Dixon) Sumrall, MS
Chambers Brothers, The -- Lee County, MS (song Time Has Come Today used in over 30 movies and commercials)
Chatmon, Armenter "Bo"(see Bo Carter) Bolton, Mississippi, (blues), brother of Lonnie and Sam Chatmon
Chatmon, Lonnie (Mississippi Sheiks) blues
Chatmon, Sam (aka Sam Chatman of Mississippi Sheiks) blues, Bolton, Mississippi, 1897-1983 Cheseborough, Steve (acoustic blues) wrote Blues Travelin' guide to Mississippi blues spots. Oxford, Mississippi
Clark, Tena (Waynesboro, MS) songwriter, producer, has written "I'll Be Okay" "You Deserve a Break Today," "That’s The Beat of a Heart," co-writer with Patty LaBelle of song sung at memorial service for the Columbia astronauts at National Cathedral, music for NASA and Air Force One by her company Disc Marketing, composed an original song for the Desperate Housewives soundtrack which was recorded by LeAnn Rimes. She also produced Dionne Warwick's first holiday CD, “My Favorite Time of the Year” as well as “Church: Songs of Soul & Inspiration,” a dual music CD and CD-ROM box set featuring Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison along with top African-American female artists such as Patti LaBelle and Chaka Khan performing a collection of favorite R&B, pop, and gospel songs. Clark wrote and produced the single “Way Up There,” recorded by Patti LaBelle for the “Church” CD, which was nominated for a GRAMMY® Award. She is now writing musical show Twist.
Clay, Otis (gospel/soul-blues) Waxhaw, MS, February 11, 1942
Clearwater, Eddy "the Chief" (blues) aka Eddie Harrington, Macon, Mississippi
Cobbs, Willie (blues) Greenwood, Mississippi
Cochran, Hank (Nashville country songwriter, thirty-three BMI awards) Isola, MS, 1935, Best known songs include Make the World Go Away and I Fall to Pieces. His songs have been recorded by Dinah Shore, Patsy Cline, Ronnie Milsap, Big Crosby, Dean Martin, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello and many others.
Cockrell, Bud (Greenville) 4 gold records --singer and bass guitar player with Pablo Cruise in the 70's, left the band for joint project with then wife Patty Santos (vocal on "White Bird" from the "It's a Beautiful Day" band out of San Francisco in the early 70's). They formed The Cockrell-Santos Band.
Cockrell, Charles a deceased singer who recorded for Hi Records and in later years operated his own studio in partnership with Kenneth Reich of Amory.
Cooke, Sam (gospel, soul, and rock n' roll) Clarksdale, Mississippi, 1931-1964
Jack, Crocker Mississippi Delta native, songwriter who signed with Stax co-founder Estelle Axton on her Fretone Records in Memphis which later released “Disco Duck.” Played baseball for Delta State, has a Ph.D from Texas Tech, a recording artist and poet
Cotton, Eddie (blues singer and guitarist) Clinton, MS
Cotton, James (blues), Tunica, MS, 1935, raised by Sonny Boy Williamson, played harmonica, "Mr. Superharp Himself," nominated for Grammy in 1987
Crudup, Arthur "Big Boy" (blues singer and songwriter, author of That's All Right) Forest, MS, 1905-1974
Curtis, Peck (blues washboard, drums, and jug player and tap dancer) King Biscuit Entertainer, Benoit, MS
Cummings, George played with Dr. Hook in the 70's and 80's, from Meridian, now lives in New York, and still plays and write songs in Nashville, TN.
Cummings, Morris aka Blind Mississippi Morris (harmonica) Clarksdale, MS.
Dara, Olu born Charles Jones, (blues, jazz singer, guitarist, harmonica player, and trumpeter, Delta Blues, Jazz, Afro-beat and Caribbean influences Natchez, MS, long-running top 20 Billboard hit album in 1998 called The World: From Natchez to New York, father of hip hop artist Nas (Nasir Jones)
Dardanelle (born Marcia Marie Mullen Hadley) (jazz singer), Avalon, MS, 1917-1997.
Davenport, Lester (blues harmonica) Tchula, MS
Davis, Blind John (session pianist) Hattiesburg, MS, 1913-1985
Charles Davis (jazz saxophonist) Goodman, MS, 1933
Davis, Mamie "Galore" Elwin, Mississippi
Davis, Paul (country/soft rock--"I Go Crazy" ) Meridian, MS, 1948-April 2008, Kemper County, MS, near Cleveland
Davis, Tyrone (pop, soul, blues) Greenville, MS, 1938
Davis, Walter (blues) Grenada, MS
Davis, William Houston Born 1914, Died 1987. Wrote Mississippi State song, also teacher, arranger, composer, born in Oklahoma and moved to Mississippi in 1942.
Davis, Paul (Meridian) singer and songwriter, his soft rock hit I Go Crazy was released in 1977, died in 2008 of heart attack at 60
Davis, William W. Late band director at Jackson State
Dawkins, Jimmy (blues guitarist) Tchula, MS
DeChiaro, John classical guitarist, over 30 years teaching at University of Southern Mississippi, made his debut in 1976 in Carnegie Hall performance that brought a rave notice from The New York Times. Has performed there with the Mississippi Guitar quartet, an ensemble he established. He has performed throughout the United States, South America, Canada, Europe and Mexico. Performed for President and Mrs. Bill Clinton for two special Christmas functions at the White House.
Delta Rhythm Boys (jazz) founded in 1930's by Lee Gaines of Buena Vista, first African-American entertainers to perform in Las Vegas
Dickinson, Jim 1941-2009, Coldwater based producer and musician whose music career began cutting singles for Sun Records in the 1960s. He played piano on the Stones' recording of Wild Horses. In recent years he recorded with artists including Bob Dylan, operated the Zebra Ranch Studio in Coldwater, and led the Yalo Bushwhackers, the house band for Oxford's Thacker Mountain Radio. He and his wife Mary Lindsay Dickinson lived in Hernando. He is the father of Luther and Cody Dickinson, members of the the Grammy-nominated North Mississippi Allstars. Dickinson recorded with and produced greats like Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Big Star, and the Rolling Stones. He helped shape the Memphis sound in an influential career that spanned more than four decades. He died at age 67 in August 2009 after heart surgery.
Diddley, Bo aka Otha Ellas Bates McDaniels (guitarist, singer, songwriter, considered by many to be the father of rock-and-roll, blues), McComb, MS, 1928
Didlake, Scott Crystal Springs, MS, 1948-1994, best known as an artist, also a gifted musician and a writer, a craftsman who made gourd banjos, which he called banzas which originally came from Africa, a member of the craftsman's guild of Mississippi. He died of Lou Gehrig's disease at the age of 46 in 1994; his instruments are now collectibles. He and a handful of others sparked the now fast-growing movement of gourd banjo players and makers.
Dixon, Willie (composer, producer, arranger, bass player, recording artist, band leader) Vicksburg, MS, 1915-1992 Dr. Ross (see Isaiah Ross) (one-man blues band) Tunica, MS
Dorman, Harold (1931-1988) rock & roll singer/songwriter from rural Mississippi who wrote a song called "Mountain of Love," released as a single in 1960 on the Rita record label. Song became a hit in the U.S., reaching #7 on the Black Singles chart and #21 on the Billboard Hot 100, was Dorman's only hit record but song proved to be popular as Charley Pride, Johnny Rivers, and Ronnie Dove all hit the U.S. charts with the song, also was also recorded by Bruce Springsteen, The Beach Boys, Tommy Cash, and Narvel Felts.
Dorrough, Duff and the Revelators (see also Charlie Love Jacobs and The Tangents)
Douglas, K. C. (acoustic Delta blues) Sharon, MS 1913-1975
Downing, Ann (gospel singer, former member of the Speer Family)
Duke, Roby (gospel)
Dumas, Gayle (songwriter) Jackson, MS
Dykes, Omar (blues) McComb, MS
Billy Earheart Fulton, MS, Plays piano, Hammond B3, accordian,and harp; Original member of the Grammy award winning Rhythm Aces band, (still touring after 32 years), also 22 years with Hank Williams, Jr., has also performed with BB King, Al Green, Kid Rock, Rufus Thomas, Wet Willie, Eddie Hinton, Tony Joe White, Waylon Jennings, Gate Mouth Brown and many others.
David "Honeyboy" Edwards (Chicago blues) Shaw, MS, 1915
Meredith Edwards (country singer) Born March 15, 1984, Clinton, Mississippi. She recorded an album, Reach, for Mercury Records Nashville in 2001. This album accounted for two singles on the Billboard country singles charts. She and Lance Bass of N'Sync were members of the traveling choir Mississippi Show Stoppers when they were in elementary school.
Theodore "Teddy"/"Babe Ruth" Edwards (jazz and bebop) Jackson, played tenor saxophone,1924-2003.
Jimmy Elledge (pop/rock, country singer,1962 hit "Funny How Time Slips Away") Meridian
Ruby Elzy (first Serena in the opera Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin) Pontotoc, Mississippi, 1908-1943
Caleb Emphrey ( drummer for B. B. King for years)
Chris Ethridge (Meridian) "bassist" in "The Flying Burrito Brothers" and others, toured with Willie Nelson for almost 8 years, has written a number of songs recorded by other artists including "She"... recorded by the Black Crowes, and which is now being played live by Norah Jones on tour, bass player on "Whiskey River" by Willie Nelson
Lehman Engel (three time Tony winner, composer, conductor, and author), Jackson, MS, 1910-1982
Evans, Ean (bassist for Lynyrd Skynyrd), born Donald "Ean'' Evans, (also known as Mississippi Kid), on September 16, 1960, in Atlanta, Georgia; died of cancer May 6, 2009, at age 48 in Columbus, Mississippi
Morris "Mo" Evans Starkville, MS
Betty Everett (singer) Greenwood, MS
Ralph Ezell ( original bass guitarist for country band Shenandoah) Born in Union, MS, on December 30, 1953 graduated from Pearl High School in Pearl, MS. Died November 30, 2007 of an apparent heart attack
Shelly Fairchild (country singer) Clinton, MS
R. S. Field (accomplished songwriter and Grammy-nominated record producer) Hattiesburg, founding member of Hattiesburg bands with major label recording contracts including Omar & The Howlers (Columbia Records) and Webb Wilder (Island Records, BMG Records).Songs Field has written include seven albums worth of material for Webb Wilder including Tough It Out and You Might Be Lonely For a Reason; Powerful Stuff for the Fabulous Thunderbirds from the Cocktail film soundtrack; Long Story Short for John Mayall & the Bluebreakers, Morning Train for Nanci Griffith, Border Girl and several others for Omar & the Howlers, and most recently I Don't Like It by Mando Saenz and It's Going To Feel Good (When It Stops Hurting) by Allison Moorer. In 2013, Field won praise for his work as producer of Justin Townes Earle's Midnight at the Movies, which earned a Best Album nomination at the Americana Music Awards.
Alvin Fielder (jazz drummer) Meridian, MS, 1935
Jerry Fisher - former lead singer of Blood Sweat and Tears, born in Oklahoma, lives in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, since early 70's
Five Blind Boys of Mississippi (gospel) led by Archie Brownlee, (also known as The Cotton Blossom Singers) Utica Institute, MS
Steve Forbert (country) Meridian 1955
Forrest Family (gospel) Winona, MS
Willie Foster (blues) 1921-2001
Fountain, Pete 1930- Bay St. Louis, MS, career spans more than 50 years, jazz clarinetist, grew up in New Orleans, autobiography in 1972 called A Closer Walk: The Pete Fountain Story
Vernel Fournier (jazz drummer)
Frank Frost (blues) Augusta, AR
Fabulous Thunderbirds, Anson, MS, now in Texas with Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets
Johnny Fuller (singer, gospel-influenced soul, blues, R & B, rock and roll) Edwards, MS
The Gants (Greenwood pop band) 1960's, member were/are Don Wood, Sid Herring, John Sanders, Vince Montgomery (the group has recently begun performing together again
Bobbie Gentry (born Roberta Lee Streeter) Chickasaw County 1944
Mickey Gilley (country) Natchez, 1936
Jazz Gillum (William Gillum) harmonica player, Indianola, MS
Will Gilmer (fiddler and founder of Leake County Revelers, 1926) Sebastopol, MS, 1895
John E. Gilmore (jazz tenor sax) 1931-1995
Jimmy Gilreath (songwriter of Band of Gold recorded by Sonny James), Tupelo, MS
Golden, William 1878-1934, gospel songwriter of Beautiful Life in 1918 and Lonely Tombs, Where the Soul Never Dies, killed in traffic accident near Eupora, Mississippi. Buried in Spring Valley Cemetery, Webster County, Mississippi - supposedly wrote most of his songs while serving an eight-year sentence in the state penitentiary
Marshall Grant (bassist) 1928, played with the Tennessee Two, the band which backed Jonny Cash, author of I Was There When It Happened
Mark Gray (country singer and songwriter) Hinds County, MS
Lil Green, Chicago based rhythm and blues singer, Mississippi Delta, 1919-1954
Elizabeth Greenfield 1824-1876 (the Black Swan), first African-American concert singer, born into slavery in Natchez, Mississippi. Greenfield's owner, Mrs. Jesse Greenfield, freed her slaves sometime in the late 1820's and moved to Philadelphia, taking the young Greenfield with her. Mrs. Jesse Greenfield acted as guardian and patroness to her ward until her death in 1844. In 1853 Greenfield toured England, returned to Philadelphia in 1854 where she continued to sing, teach voice, and during the 1860s, she directed productions of the Philadelphia Opera Troupe. Greenfield died in Philadelphia in 1876, reportedly of paralysis.
Dick Griffin Trombonist, pianist, painter
Michael Grimm (singer) winner of America's Got Talent's fifth season. Born in Colorado on the Fort Carson base, moved to Slidell, Louisiana, but later raised in Waveland, MS, by his grandparents. He currently resides in Henderson, Nevada.
Guitar Slim (born Eddie Jones ) Greenwood, MS
Marcia Marie Mullen Hadley (jazz singer known as Dardanelle ) 1920-1998, Avalon, MS
Jack Hale Cleveland, MS, (trombone player for The Memphis Horns for 14 years, played on many gold records), retired, played Blues Concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York, made into a movie by Martin Scorcese entitled "Lightning in a Bottle."
Joe Hall musician who operated Ole Barney Recording Studio of Blue Springs
Hanalena (country/folk singers) Sisters Hannah and Caroline Melby from Starkville, formerly Nash Street
Fannie Lou Townsend Hamer (gospel singer, Civil Rights Activist) died in Ruleville, MS in 1977
John Handy jazz musician, composer, and recording artist, born in 1900, he died in 1970 at his Pass Christian, Mississippi home
W. C. Handy (father of the blues) Clarksdale, MS, and Tutwiler, MS, 1892
Jimmy Harrell (Alton and Jimmy)
Eddie Harrington (see Eddy Clearwater, Macon, MS)
Kenneth Haxton (classical composer) Greenville, MS
Patrick Hayes - Mendenhall, MS, lives in Chicago, plays guitar, toured with Darius Brooks of EMI records, recorded with Bobby Rush and last 4 albums of David Banner
Jessie Mae Hemphill (female blues singer) Senatobia, MS
Sid Hemphill (1876-1961) fife and drum band, music recorded by Lomax, The Devil's Dream is 15 of his songs, grandfather of Jessie Mae Hemphill.
Jimmy Henderson ( guitarist) born on May 20, 1954, played with Black Oak Arkansas and others, graduated from Pearl High School in Pearl, MS, now playing with Dorothy Moore.
Michael Henderson (jazz) Yazoo City, 1951
John "JoJo" Herman (keyboardist for Widespread Panic), Oxford, MS
Al "Fish" Herring trumpet, flugelhorn
Caroline Herring--(singer) Canton, MS, co-founder of Oxford radio's Thacker Mountain, Album Golden Apples of the Sun won 2010 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for music composition.
Benjamin Herrington (classical trombonist) 1964 Pascagoula
Faith Hill (country) Jackson, Mississippi, born in Star, Mississippi, in 1967
Arthur "Art" Hillery (jazz pianist) Jackson
Quincy Hilliard (composer and SHS graduate, Starkville, MS)
Milt Hinton (jazz) bass player and composer, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1910
Claire Holley (singer/songwriter from Jackson, Mississippi)
Herbie Holmes (jazz, creator of big band style of Lawrence Welk), Yazoo City, MS, 1912-1981
Morris Holt (see Magic Slim)
Redd Holt (jazz drummer) Rosedale, 1932
Earl Hooker (slide guitarist) Clarksdale, MS, 1930-1970
John Lee Hooker (blues, rhythm and blues) Clarksdale, MS, 1920-2001
Hooks Trio (gospel), Collins, MS
Big Walter "Shakey" Horton (Chicago blues harmonica stylist) Horn Lake, MS
Mark Howell (recipient of Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award for music composition--1997)
House, Son (born Eddie James, Jr.) (blues) Riverton, Mississippi, in Coahoma County, teacher of Robert Johnson
Guy Hovis Lawrence Welk Show, Tupelo, Mississippi
Howlin' Wolf (Chester A. Burnett) (singer, songwriter, blues musician) West Point, MS
Neilson Hubbard (Jackson)
Cary Hudson (Oxford) member of now defunct alt-country group Blue Mountain, new recording The Phoenix
Keith Hunter Mississippi John Hurt Teoc, Miss. (blues-folk singer and guitarist) 1892-1966
Buck Huteson Nettleton, MS, played guitar for many years for Jerry Lee Lewis
International Sweethearts of Rhythm (all female swing band), organized by Laurence C. Jones, founder of Piney Woods School, 1930's, 1940's
Jackson Southernaires Huey Williams; Roger Bryant, Jr.; Maurice Surrell; James Burks; Luther Jennings (only remaining original member), Franklin Williams, also member of group and founded Mississippi Mass Choir
Bessie Jackson (see Lucille Bogan ) Amory, MS
Carl Jackson Louisville, Mississippi, played with Glen Campbell, won grammy, winner of 2012 Governor's Awards for Excellence in Arts in Music
Cordell Jackson 1923-2004 (guitarist) Pontotoc, MS, old lady of Pepsi commercial, believed to be first woman to produce, arrange, and promote music on her own label called Moon, began writing and recording her own songs in the late 1940's,started performing at age 12 with her father's band and later played on the radio in Tupelo, MS, appeared on David Letterman, MTV, and Budweiser beer ad, played rockabilly, boogie, and rock n' roll, moved to Memphis during Second World War where she died in 2004.
George Henry Jackson (songwriter) 1945-2013, Indianola, MS., His family in 1950 moved to Greenville, MS., where he grew up. His career in music began in the early 60's as a vocalist and songwriter in Memphis, where he lived for the 26 years. In 1969, Rick Hall at Fame Records in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, signed Jackson as a Fame songwriter. His first of many Gold Records as a songwriter, "One Bad Apple" by The Osmonds, came soon after his arrival at Fame. Moving to Muscle Shoals Sound, he continued to turn out hit songs. His biggest hit ever is Bob Seger's 1979 rock classic, "Old Time Rock & Roll". Another "Down Home Blues" by Z. Z. Hill, released by Malaco Records in 1982, became the best known blues song of the 80's and Malaco's biggest hit. "Unlock Your Mind" recorded by the Staple Singers and "The Only Way Is Up" recorded by Otis Clay and Yazz & The Plastic Population were two other songs to reach the top of the music charts. He moved to Jackson, MS., in 1991.
Jim Jackson (blues singer-guitarist) Hernando, MS
Vasti Jackson (blues) McComb, MS, 1959- guitarist
Charlie "Love" Jacobs (singer with the Tangents)
Jaimoe (Born Johnny Lee Johnson, Ocean Springs, MS, and original drummer with the Allman Brothers Band
Eddie James, Jr (see Son House)
Elmore James (born Elmore Brooks) slide guitarist, Richland, MS, 1918-1963
Nehemiah "Skip" James Bentonia, MS, 1902-1969
Bobby Jay (born in Meridian, Ms 1940 as Robert James McCarty, Jr., died 1993
Big Jack Johnson (blues) Lambert, Mississippi, in 1940 one of Jelly Roll Kings
James Johnson (Super Chikan), Darling, MS, 1951
Jimmy Johnson (blues) born Jimmy Thompson, 1911, in Holly Springs, MS
Jimmy Johnson (country) born in Canton, went to Starkville High School, plays with Patty Lovelace, TV shows
Luther "Guitar Jr." Johnson (blues) Itta Bena, MS, 1939
Robert L. Johnson (King of the Delta blues, songwriter, guitarist) Hazelhurst, MS, 1911-1938
Syl Johnson (soul singer) brother of Jimmy Johnson, Holly Springs, MS, 1936, guitar and harp
Tommy Johnson (blues) Born: 1896 in Terry, MS Died: 1956 in Crystal Springs, MS
Calvin Jones (bass in The Legendary Blues Band) Greenwood, MS
Casey Jones (drummer and singer) Nitta Yuma, MS
Henry "Hank" Jones (bebop, jazz pianist) Vicksburg, July 311918-2010, won Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2009 and National Medal of Arts in 2008, , 70 year career, accompanied Marilyn Monroe when she sang Happy Birthday to John Kennedy
Eddie Jones (Guitar Slim) (rhythm and blues) Greenwood, MS, 1926-1959
Johnny Jones (blues pianist) Jackson, MS, 1924-1964
Samuel Jones (award winning composer and conductor, founder of school of music at Rice University), 1935, Inverness, MS
Margie Joseph (singer, Misty Blue)
Kansas City Red (see Arthur Lee Stevenson), Drew, MS
Karson Karlisle aka Brandi Shurden, Starkville, MS (country)
Murray Kellum (country/novelty type songs) Jackson, MS
Willie Kent (bass player and vocalist) Shelby, MS
Les Kerr (songwriter and recording artist) Jackson and Pascagoula , MS
Junior Kimbrough (blues) Hudsonville or Holly Springs, MS, 1930-1972
Albert King born Albert Nelson (major blues guitarist) Indianola, MS, 1923-1992
B. B. King (born Riley B. King, blues guitarist, singer, songwriter) Indianola, MS, eight Grammys, 1925
Willie King (blues singer and guitarist) Prairie Point, MS (1943-2009)
Lester "Big Daddy" Kinsey (blues singer and guitarist) Pleasant Grove, MS
Pat Kirby (country) Newton, MS
Carl Knight (songwriter) Born 1930 in Leake County, MS, lives in Hendersonville, sharecropper’s son who has had artists like Mel Tillis, Charlie Pride, Loretta Lynn, Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie Pride, and Norma Jean sing his songs. Received Lifetime Achievement Awards from both his home state of Mississippi and the Nashville Songwriter’s Festival in 2010.
Fred Knobloch (guitarist, country singer, and songwriter) Jackson, MS, 1953
Skylar Laine (country singer) Born in 1994, lives in Brandon, MS. Full name Skylar Laine Harden. American Idol finalist
Danny Lancaster (singer/blues guitarist) Duck Hill, MS
Patrick Lamb Jackson, MS performed with Diane Schuur and also Tom Grant has solo recordings
Denise LaSalle soul-blues singer and songwriter) Belzoni, MS (Leflore County) or Sidon, MS, 1939
Law of Nature See also Chapman Welch, Starkville, MS
Rick Lawson --Raymond, Mississippi
Albert "Sonnyland Slim" Laundrew (blues) Vance, MS, 1907
Lafayette Leake, blues pianist, Winona, MS
Leake County Revelers formed 1926 (see Will Gilmer (1895, Sebastopol),
Lee, Daniel Curtis and Nathaniel, Jr. album Warming by Brotherlee, both brothers are well-known as actors
Chris LeDoux (country) Biloxi, MS, 1948, died 2005
Joe Lee "Papa" (blues) Inverness, MS
Lucas Leigh (16 year old pianist from Hernando, Mississippi)
J. G. Lenoir, blues composer of social commentary songs, Monticella, MS
Bruce Levingston Cleveland, MS, internationally-renowned, contemporary concert pianist. Many of the world's most important composers have written works for him. His Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center world premiere performances of their works have won notable critical acclaim. CD's include Still Sound, Nightbreak, and Heart Shadow. Now lives in New York. Son of the late Barbara and Douglas Levingston of Cleveland, Bruce and his brother Jon co-founded the Levingston Continuing Fund in the Humanities at Delta State.
Furry Lewis born Walter Lewis, (guitarist, songwriter, TV shows) Greenwood, MS, ca. 1893-1981, first blues recording artist from the 1920's rediscovered in the 1960's revival of the blues, album In His Prime 1917-1928.
Jerry Lee Lewis (rock and roll) pianist and singer, born in Ferriday, Louisiana, in 1935, has lived in Nesbit, MS, since 1979, click on web page for more.
Alexander "Papa George" Lightfoot, Campbell, MS, died 1971
Little Milton (guitarist, soul-blues guitarist and singer) Inverness, MS
Alexander "Papa George" Lightfoot, died 1971 Campbell, MS
Johnny Little john (Chicago blues) Lake, MS
Jimmie Lunceford (jazz, swing), Fulton, 1902-1942
John Avery Lomax (pioneer in recording and collecting black field and folk songs, blues, spirituals) Goodman, MS
Alton Lott (of Alton and Jimmy)
Louisiana Red, born Iverson Minter (blues guitarist and singer now in Europe) Vicksburg, MS
Willie Love, (piano player and singer) Duncan, MS
Mundell Lowe (jazz guitarist) Laurel, MS, 1922
Sterling Magee (blues)
Sam "Magic Sam" Maghett (blues) Grenada, MS, 1937-1969. Album West Side Soul is classic. He died at 32. Album has been reissued.
Magic Slim, born Morris Holt (Chicago blues guitarist and singer) Grenada, MS 1938-2013
Tom "Bones" Malone (Hattiesburg/Sumrall, Mississippi), trombonist with David Letterman CBS Orchestra, the Blues Brothers, Saturday Night Live, 1947
Bobby Mann drummer, Macon, MS, 1950
James Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers)
Charlie Mars Band (see also Matt Ulmer) Laurel, MS, now lives in Oxford, MS
Mac McAnally (country) Belmont, Mississippi 1957
Tommy McClennan (Delta guitarist and blues singer) Yazoo City, MS, 1908-1958
O.B. (Obie Burnett) McClinton (country) Senatobia, Mississippi, 1940-1987
Douglas McConnell (composer of opera and contemporary music) Starkville, MS
George McConnell (former lead guitarist with Widespread Panic, also played with Kudzu Kings, originally with band named "Beanland") Vicksburg, MS, now Oxford, MS
Charlie McCoy (blues singer, accompanist and guitarist) Jackson, MS, 1909-1950
Joe McCoy (guitarist) Raymond, MS
Memphis Minnie born in Algiers, Louisiana, in 1897 as Lizzie Douglas but raised in north Delta near Walls, MS, one of leading musicians of the 1940's in Chicago, vocalist, songwriter and guitarist, died 1973
Rufus McKay (singer with the Red Tops) Vicksburg, born 1927, known for singing Danny Boy, later became second tenor for the Ink Spots
Mississippi Sheiks Bolton, MS (see Bo Carter and Sam Chatmon)
Mississippi Fred McDowell, (country blues) Como, MS, 1904-197
Bob McRee Clinton, MS. songwriter, won two Grammy awards. One for Pickin' Wild Mountain Berries, recorded by Peggy Scott, Jojo Benso, Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty.
Elsie McWilliams, (country music composer of 39 of Jimmie Rodgers's hit songs) Harperville, MS, 1896-1986
Henry "Skeets" McWilliams (jazz, country guitarist) Jackson, 1924
Big John Meholic (horn player, leader of the Nite Liters)
Jim "Fish" Michie (former member of the Tangents)
Mulgrew Miller (jazz) Greenwood, 1955
Hoyt "Floyd" Ming and his Pep-Steppers (Tupelo, MS)
Iverson Red Minter (blues) Vicksburg, MS
Mississippi Boys Choir
Mississippi Mass Choir Jackson, MS, founded in 1988 by Frank Williams
Mississippi Sheiks Bolton, MS (see Bo Carter and Sam Chatmon)
Willie Mitchell (professional musician and arranger, prominent bandleader) March 1, 1928-–January 5, 2010, born and raised in Ashland, MS, owned the world-famous Royal Recording Studio, played trumpet
Mary Ann Mobley (singer) 1939, 1959 Miss America, Broadway, movie musicals Girl Happy, Harum Scarum with Elvis Presley
Robbie Montgomery (singer) Columbus, MS
Aaron Moore (boogie-woogie) Greenwood, MS, 1928
Brew Moore (jazz) Indianola, MS, died1973 in Stockholm, Sweden, tenor sax
Dorothy Moore (blues) Jackson, MS 1947
Johnny B. Moore (blues guitarist) Clarksdale, MS
Steve Moore (alternative, rock, country) acoustic and electric guitars, harmonica, mandolin, percussion, and lead vocals, began music career in 1977 has worked as a singer/songwriter, studio owner, publisher, recording engineer, record producer, independent label head for New South Records, Meridian, MS
Tommy Moran (Bay St. Louis, MS) pedal steel and lead guitar on many recordings
McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, Rolling Fork, MS, 1915-1983
Morris, Blind Mississippi, born Morris Cummings in Clarksdale, MS, in 1955, rated one of the 10 best harmonica players in the world by Bluzharp magazine
Colonel Robert Morris Singer/Songwriter/Musician, Senatobia, MS
Moon Mullen (jazz trumpet, composer) Mayhew, 1916
Matt "Guitar" Murphy (guitarist) (Sunflower, MS)
Jasmine Murray (singer) Columbus and Starkville, American idol finalist and Miss Mississippi State in 2012-13.
Charles Douglas "Charlie" Musselwhite (blues) Kosciusko, MS, 1944
Dave Myers aka The Thumper (blues), Byhalia, MS
Louis Myers (blues) Byhalia, MS
Sam Myers (blues singer, harmonica player, drummer) Laurel, MS, 1936-2006, visually-handicapped so he attended the state school for the blind at Piney Woods. Iin 1952 he joined Elmore James's band as a drummer and was featured on some of James's best-known recordings.Myers appeared in blues band in film China Moon in 1994, Nominated for the 2005 Handy Award, played with Anson Furnderburgh and the Rockets, suffered from throat cancer and died in 2006.
Nash Street Starkville (Winners of the 26th Colgate Country Showdown, 2008) The group disbanded in 2013, and Hannah and sister Caroline have become HanaLena.
Noo Noo aka Alysia Terry Byram, MS, (young rapper) nominated for Hip Hop Female Artist of the Year by Jackson Music Awards. CD called L'll Rich Girl
North Mississippi All-Stars
Brandy Norwood (rhythm and blues, soul, TB show) McComb, 1979
Ray J. Norwood
Omar and the Howlers --Omar Kent Dykes (blues), McComb, MS, band has toured Europe and US. Albums include Hard Times in the Land of Plenty, Wall of Pride, Monkeyland, Muddy Springs Road
Alexander O'Neal Natchez, MS, 1953, balladeer, funkster, gospel, early in career a member of Jackson, Mississippi, based group called Wynd Chymes
Albert Oppenheimer Starkville, MS, Director of the People's Music School YOURS Project El Sistema in Chicago, Sistema Fellow (Formerly Abreu Fellow) at New England Conservatory, Arts Educator for Henry S. Jacobs Camp at Union for Reform Judaism, Winner of Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Musical Composition Ravenouse in 2008.
Paul Ott Caruth (country) Dixie Springs, MS, Listen to the Eagle show about the outdoors in Mississippi, performs and sings about patriotism and conservation, battled breast cancer, 79 years old in 2013 Paul Overstreet (country songwriter) Vancleave, MS, 1955
Ginny Owens Jackson, MS. Winner of Dove Award
Jack Owens (blues) Bentonia, MS (featured in Lomax's The Land Where the Blues Began)
Jimmy Owens (gospel composer) Clarksdale and Jackson, 1930, brother of Pat Fordice, founder of School of Music Ministries International, now retired
Willard Aldrich Palmer (accordion and pianist, teacher, author of numerous piano books), 1917-1996, McComb, MS
"Little Junior" Parker 1932-1971, Clarksdale
Van Dyke Parks 1943 (songwriter) Hattiesburg, Mississippi, wrote music for the Beach Boys
Michael Passons (gospel--Avalon) Yazoo City, MS
James Pasquale - recording guitarist and song writer, Meridian, Mississippi, co-wrote "Slip Away" for Ray Charles plus 27 other ASCAP credited works, Played two concerts last year at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Played on the Buddy Guy album that was one of the Grammy nominations; Recorded on Al Green's last 2 albums, working on a new John Mayer album, played on album in 2005 for film actor, Peter Gallagher, co-founder of The Flares.
Charley Patton, (first great Delta bluesman) near Edwards, MS (Hinds County) 1887-1934
Ben Wiley Payton (blues) Greenwood, Jackson, MS, made Kennedy Center appearance in 2011.
Hartley Peavey founder of Peavey Electronics in Meridian, member MS Musicians Hall of Fame, Rock Walk of Fame
Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins (blues pianist) Belzoni, MS, 1913-2011, At age of 97 was winner of 2010 Mississippi Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts. Played and toured with Muddy Waters and Ike Turner. Perkins won a Grammy in February, 2011, for best traditional blues album for Joined at the Hip: Pinetop Perkins & Willie "Big Eyes" Smith." Perkins is the oldest Grammy winner at 97 for Joined at the Hip: Pinetop Perkins & Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. He died in March, 2011.
Ben Peters (country songwriter for many recording stars) Greenville, MS and Hollandale, MS, 1937
The Pilgrim Jubilees or "The Jubes" (gospel), founded in 1944 by Elgie Graham and Willie Johnson, Houston, MS
Lonnie Pitchford (blues) Lexington, MS
Clyde Pitts (country singer, musician, lead guitarist, songwriter) Jackson
Tommy Polk (Nashville songwriter)
Eugene Powell (blues) Greenville, MS
Elvis Presley (rock and roll) Tupelo, MS, 1935-1977
Leontyne Price (Operatic soprano, first black to achieve stardom in opera, winner of fifteen Grammy awards)
Charley Pride (recording artist, three-time Grammy winner in country music), Sledge, MS, 1938
Tommy T-Bone Pruitt
James Edward "Snooky" Pryor (blues) Lambert, MS
Bill (Billy) Ray Born and raised in Jackson, MS, appears in Morgan Freeman's "Sound Revolution", a historical journey through the blues featuring footage from Ike Turner's 2002 Montreux Jazz Festival with Ray on drums!! won a Grammy for playing with Ike Turner in 2007 on Risin' with the Blues, now a session drummer, also tours with Earl Thomas and the Kings of Rhythm
The Red Tops Vicksburg, MS
Jimmy Reed Mathias James Reed (blues) Dunleith, MS, 1925-1976
Del Rendon and the Puerto Rican Rum Drunks, Starkville, MS (Del Rendon died September 4, 2005)
Rhonda Richmond, (jazz) Jackson, MS
Dave Riley (blues) 1949 Hattiesburg
LeAnn Rimes (country music singer) Jackson, 1982
Johnny Robbins - singer in clubs in and around Tupelo beginning in the early 60's until his death from cancer in the early 80's. He recorded four songs at Fame in 1963 as a backup singer with the TEMPOS. He also recorded two songs on the Sun Label which have been released in Europe as Johnny Robbins and the Peppers.
Fenton Robinson (blues), Minter City (Greenwood), MS, 1935-1997
Andy Rodgers (harmonica blues) 1922
Jesse Rodgers (country) first cousin of Jimmie Rodgers, Waynesboro, MS, 1911-1973
Jimmie Rodgers (father of country music, songwriter, blues) 1897-1933, Meridian, MS
Jimmy Rogers (blues) born in Ruleville, MS, 1924-1997
Charles Isaiah "Doc" Ross (guitar blues) Tunica, MS, 1925
Steve Rouse (bassoonist, rhythm and blues, theory and composition) Moss Point, 1953
David Ruffin (lead singer of the Temptations) Whynot, Mississippi 1941-1991
Bobby Rush (funky blues) Jackson, MS
Otis Rush (blues) Philadelphia, MS, 1934
Johnny Russell (country) Sunflower County, MS, 1940
Jeff Savage -- Clinton, MS, Grammy Nominated and Dove award winning producer and songwriter for such Gold and Platinum selling groups and artists TobyMac, dcTalk, Jars of Clay, Natalie Imbruglia, and Plumb among others.
Scott Savage -- Clinton, MS, former drummer of Grammy and Dove award winning band Jars of Clay
Bob Saxton (country) Newton County and Jackson, MS
James Sclater, composer, clarinetist, winner of American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) for nine consecutive years, Clinton, MS (CD with Angela Willoughby called Conversations)
Second Mile (gospel) Philadelphia, MS
Eddie Shaw, (Chicago blues saxophone player) Stringtown, MS
J. D. Short (blues singer) Port Gibson, MS
Brandi Shurden Starkville, Mississippi (country)
Chad Simmons (country) Brookhaven, MS
Gene Simmons Tupelo, original rockabilly artist and the lead singer for the Bill Black Combo for years, recorded many songs for Hi and Sun Records in Memphis,third songwriter on Time McGraw's Indian Outlaw, hit in the 60's called Haunted House.
James Simmons - Tupelo, singer with the Tempos
Jarekus Singleton bass guitarist and singer, won Jackson Music Award in 2012 for Blues Artist of the Year
Byther Smith (singer, guitarist, and songwriter) blues, born in 1932, Blues on the Moon
Dalton Smith (jazz trumpeter) Forest, lead trumpet for Stan Kenton in the 60's, studio freelance artist
Mack Allen Smith Carroll County, Mississippi
Wadada Leo Smith (jazz, world music theory) 1941 Leland
Otis "Big Smokey" Smothers (Chicago blues guitarist) Lexington, MS
Albert "Little Smokey" Smothers (Chicago blues) Tchula, MS, 1939- 2010.
Son House (Eddie James, Jr.)
Southland Quartet, Corinth, MS 1940's
Otis Spann, (pianist) Belzoni, MS, 1930-1970
Sparks Family Singers Belmont, MS, 3 generations have performed throughout the US, have recorded 12 albums and over 100 songs
Britney Spears (McComb, Mississippi)
H. C. Speir (Jackson businessman known as the Godfather of Delta Blues, discovered many blues artists) died 1972
Squirrel Nut Zippers (see Jimbo Mathus )
The Staple Singers (Roebuck "Pop" Staples) Winona, MS
Mavis Staple Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Named one of the 100 greatest singers of all time by Rolling Stone and 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll by VH1, Staples commands the sort of respect that earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for The Staple Singers, for which Mavis was lead singer. Her newest album is You Are Not Alone,
Garrison Starr (Hernando, Mississippi)
Lisa Stewart (songwriter--country, rock) Louisville, MS, 1968
William Grant Still (composer, Afro-American Symphony first symphonic work by a black performed in US), Woodville, MS
Laurie Stiratt (Oxford) vocalist, once member of now defunct Blue Mountain group
Sarah Streeter (aka Big Time Sarah) Coldwater, MS
Napoleon Strickland (fife and drum blues, master of the harmonica) Como, MS, died in nursing home in Senatobia, MS 1919- 2001, sometimes known as Napolian Strickland, taught to play by Otha Turner
Marty Stuart (country singer and guitarist) Philadelphia, MS, 1958, Grammy award winner for Hummingbird and others
Hubert Sumlin (guitar blues) Greenwood, MS, 1931
Sunnyland Slim,( blues and folk pianist, singer, songwriter) born Albert Luandrew on September 5, 1906, in Vance, Mississippi. He died March 17, 1995, Luandrew received his nickname after writing a song about a famous train wreck in the 1930's involving the Sunnyland train. An exceptional songwriter and pianist with hands that could cover octaves, he was also instrumental in creating what's known as the Chicago sound. He is the man who introduced Muddy Waters to the Chess brothers and one of the most important musicians ever to set foot in the Windy City, working extensively with Waters, Willie Dixon, Howlin Wolf, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Little Walter Jacobs and Big Walter Horton, among others. During the Depression, he roved the South before settling in Chicago during the great Migration. His style featured a strong left hand for bassline and vamp chords and a right hand tremolo. A National Heritage Fellow, Studes Turkel called him "a living piece of our folk history, gallantly and eloquently carring on in the old tradition.
Glenn Sutton (Jackson and Utica, MS) songwriter of 27 BMI hits, formerly married to Lynn Anderson, produced her hit, "(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden" for which he received a Platinum Album and Gold Single Award
Jimmy Swan (country "The Way You're Living") Hattiesburg, MS
Bobby Joe Swilley, Langford, MS, (Mississippi Mud) Rockabilly Hall of Fame
Tangents (see Charlie Love Jacobs, also Duff Durrough and the Revelators, Fish Michie, and Bob Barbee)
Tate, Little Tommy raised in Mississippi, born in Florida in 1944 , singer, drummer, and songwriter for Stax Records
Taylor, Greg "Fingers" (rock and roll) Jackson since high school
Taylor, Eddie "Playboy" (blues guitarist) guitarist for Jimmy Reed, Benoit, MS, 1923
Taylor, Hound Dog (slide guitarist) Natchez. MS, 1917-1975
Taylor, Melvin Jackson, MS
3 Doors Down (rock) from Escatawpa, Mississippi, 3 Doors Down is Brad Arnold, lead vocals; Matt Roberts, guitar; Todd Harrell, bass and Chris Henderson, guitar
Temple, Johnny "Geechie" Canton, MS, 1906-1968
Thomas, Frank and Eddie (Iuka) the Blues Brothers formed a film production company, Thomasfilms, used their music and filmmaking talents to produce industrial and independent films. Zeb and Sal, a 30-minute docudrama, won them a gold award at the Houston International Film Festival in 1993, created an audio cassette self-guided driving tour of the Natchez Trace Parkway--an 8 1/2-hour series called "Natchez Trace: A Road Through the Wilderness," with original music and stories keyed to the historic road's mile markers. Then decided to research and record 61 songs for Highway 61, the Blues Highway in Mississippi and ended with a four CD series, called "Angels on the Backroads."
Thomas, Pat (blues) son of bluesman, guitarist and folk artist James ‘Son’ Thomas, carries on father’s legacy while leaving own mark in the Mississippi Delta.
Thomas, Rufus (blues) Cayce, MS 1917-2001
Thomas,Son (blues) born James Thomas, Eden, MS
Thorn, Paul (Tupelo) singer who tours all over the US, has written several songs recorded by artists such as Sawyer Brown and Tanya Tucker.
Townsend, Henry (blues pianist and guitar player) Shelby, MS
Turnbull, Walter (leader of Boys Choir of Harlem, opera) Greenville, MS, wrote Lift Every Voice : Expecting the Most and Getting the Best from All of God's Children
Turner, Ike (blues, rock and roll) Clarksdale, MS, 1931-2007
Turner, Othar (blues) Gravel Springs, MS, 1908-2003
Twitty, Conway (born Harold Lloyd Jenkins, country music singer and songwriter), Friars Point, MS, 1933-1994
Tyler, Dan (successful songwriter and performer) McComb MS, moved to Nashville, TN in 1976, where he has had many hit songs as a writer (5 number one songs, dozens of other recorded songs) including Hearts on Fire (Eddie Rabbitt), Bobby Sue (the Oak Ridge Boys), Twenty Years Ago (Kenny Rogers),
Modern Day Romance (the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) and The Light in Your Eyes (Leann Rimes). B J Thomas, Bobby Blue Bland, Juice Newton, Candi Staton, and many others have recorded his songs. He was a featured musical performer on the Thacker Mountain Radio Show in 2014.
Ulmer, L. C. (blues) Born 1919 in Ellisville, MS. A multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Ulmer plays guitar, keyboards, drums, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, kazoo, and harmonica, performed as a “twelve piece” one-man band for many years
Ulmer, Matt (Charlie Mars Band) Jackson, MS
Utica Jubilee Singers, (gospel) Utica, MS
Van Acker, Steven Madison, MS
Vinson, Mose (blues pianist) Holly Springs, , MS, 1917
Vinson, Walter (guitarist and singer with Mississippi Sheiks) Bolton, MS, 1901-1975
Walker, "Big Moose" (Chicago blues piano) Greenville, MS
Walker, Tricia award winning singer/songwriter, publisher and producer, her music has been recorded by Faith Hill, Patty Loveless and Alison Krauss, whose performance of Walker'sLooking in the Eyes of Love earned a Grammy, she recently moved to Cleveland, MS, and Delta State where she is the director of the Delta Music Institute
Walker, Robert Bilbo Clarksdale, MS
Wallace, L'il Bill (bass of Delta Blue)
Walley Family (gospel) Richton, MS
Walton, Wade (harmonica and guitar playing barber) Lombardy, MS
Ward, John (songwriter) Natchez, MS
Waters, Muddy (McKinley Morganfield) Singer, blues guitarist, songwriter (Rolling Fork and Clarksdale, MS)
Watkins, Sr., Harvey "Pop"
Watson, Libby Rae (blues)
Watson, William (new age/classical pianist) Hattiesburg, MS, album Burnham Woods, debut album Fields
Waits, Freddie jazz drummer
Weatherly, Jim Ponotoc, (has written over 120 songs registered by ASCAP), best known for writing hit songs for Gladys Knight in the 1970's including Midnight Train to Georgia, born on March 17, 1943.
Webb, Boogie Bill Jackson, MS
Wells, Lloyd (country and jazz guitarist) Music Director of Opryland USA, guitarist for Broadway shows, 1938
Whalen,Bobby (blues) Indianola, MS
Welch, Chapman See also Law of Nature
White, Artie (blues singer) Vicksburg, MS
White, Bukka (traditional blues singer and slide guitarist) Houston, MS, 1906-1977
White, Harry K. saxophonist, born 1967 in Gulfport, graduated from Starkville High School, brother of Oxford playwright Neil W. White III, performs throughout US and Europe, Rascher Quartet
Wiginton, Johnny (country) North MS, a studio guitar player in and around Tupelo since the early sixties, has opened for or jammed with many older stars in the U.S, a regular on The Morning Show on Channel 9 in Tupelo since the show came on the air. He still continues to work in several studios in North Mississippi, operates a guitar repair shop in Tupelo Consignment Music.
Wiley, Geeshie early Delta country blues woman
Wilkins, Joe Willie (played guitar behind Sonny Boy Williamson) Davenport, MS
Wilkins, Robert Timothy (blues) 1896-1987
Williams Brothers (gospel) Summit, Mississippi, founded 1960 by Leon "Pop" Williams
Wilkins, Robert (guitarist and singer) Hernando, MS
Williams, Frank (see Mississippi Mass Choir )
William, Big Joe (Delta blues guitarist and singer) Crawford, MS
Williams, Milan B.
Williamson II, Sonny Boy (aka Rice Miller) Glendora, MS 1899-1965
Wilson, Al Meridian, MS, 1939-2008, soul singer, songwriter, performer, drummer
Wilson, Lester Senter (opera singer, Mississippi Governor's Award 2001)
Wilson, Cassandra (jazz singer and songwriter) 1997 MS Governor's Award for Excellence, Jackson, MS, Born 1955
Wilson, Gerald Stanley (jazz trumpet) 1918, Shelby
Wilson, Mary (the Supremes) Greenwood, MS, 1944
Wilson, Smokey (blues) Glen Allan, MS
Winston, George (pianist) Jackson, MS, winner of two Grammy Awards
Winter, Edgar (blues) Leland, MS, best known for instrumental Frankenstein
Winter, Johnny (blues) Leland, MS, Lived in Leland when young in the 1940's, father was mayor, Grammy winner with Muddy Waters
Wiseman, Craig (country) Hattiesburg, MS., CMA 2004 Song of the Year award for Live Like You Were Dying (Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman) and received 2005 Grammy nomination (singer Tim McGraw), writer of the hit songs “Where the Green Grass Grows,” “The Good Stuff,” “Just Another Day in Paradise,” “The Cowboy in Me,” and many more, author of inspirational book Live Like You Were Dying.
Womack, David (composer, song writer, performer, producer) Jackson, MS, wrote I Was Born to Be Country (TV), Max (commercial), Brookhaven (commercial), Ain't No jokin' (commercial), Eden (musical), Fantasy Island (TV series), What's Woodie Say? (TV promo) Song writer, performer, producer, ASCAP Award winner, 2 time recipient of the Eudora Welty New Play Series for Musicals award, Best Jingle - Jackson Music Awards
Workman, Nanette (popular Canadian singing star), raised in Jackson, MS
Wood, Bobby New Albany, MS, (one of the Memphis Boys, singer, songwriter, session player, producer), co-wrote "Talkin' In Your Sleep," wrote "Committment" for Le Ann Rimes, and many others songs for many singers, born on Jan. 25, 1941.
Wright, Benjamin (arranger, songwriter) Greenville, MS. Wrote and arranged the strings for Michael Jackson's 1979 No. 1 hit Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough. Off the Wall. Inducted into MS Musicians Hall of Fame in 2011.
Wright Frank (the Reverend) free jazz tenor saxophonist, 1935-1990, Grenada, MS, also bass player with B. B. King and Bobby Blue Bland.
Wynette, Tammy (country music singer), Tremont, MS
Young, Al (musician, poet, essayist, novelist, scriptwriter, see also Mississippi writers, Al Young)
Young, Johnny 1918-1974, Vicksburg
Young, Lester "Prez" (jazz, alto sax and tenor sax) Woodville, MS, 65 albums, 1909-1956
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