Music has long affected and reflected aspects of the world. Nowhere does that seem truer than with the blues music of the American South; specifically the haunting notes echoing from the Mississippi Delta. Blues artists have produced tales of people’s sadness, struggles, racism, and many other subjects for over 100 years. Recently, academics have joined with local participants to ensure that obscure artist gains the recognition that equals the great impact their music had on the nation.
With information obtained from several websites and articles about the Mississippi Blues Trail, the following paper examines the trail itself, the creation of such a project, why the route is important, contributions to the state’s history, and the future of the historic trail.Blues: Where it started When people think of blues music, they think of sadness, tragedy, deception, and remorse. While the lyrics of blues music itself goes far and beyond self-pity, the blues is about letting everything that is inside out into the open. Whether it be saying what you feel or letting your hair down and having fun, no other genre of music communicates a more honest emotion. The music of the blues represents those who have lost everything, been put down, beaten and abused. Early blues musicians were African American field workers wanting to express their troubles through music. In the beginning, blues music was hardly documented.
The early blues originated out of the southern United States after the American Civil War. The rural blues music began in three different regions: Georgia-Carolina region, Texas region, and the Mississippi region. The melodic blues of the Georgia-Carolina region was influenced greatly by white folk music. It is most known for its transparent vocalization and regularity of rhythm. Some famous Georgia-Carolina blues musicians where Blind Willie and Blind Boy Fuller. The Texas blues consisted of a single-string picked scale rather than strummed chords.
It is easy to identify Texas blues because of its clear singing joined with supple guitar lines. Blind Lemon Jefferson is a Texas blues representative and is said to be one of the greatest early blues musicians. The most influential of the three regions and the one claimed to be the birthplace of blues is the blues of the Mississippi Delta. The Mississippi Delta blues is by far the most speech-like of the three regions. Charley Patton, Eddie (“Son”) House, and Robert Johnson along with several others are representations of the start of the blues in Mississippi. The blues music that grew out of the fertile soils of the Mississippi Delta is recognized worldwide for the way it shaped American culture in the 20th century. The Delta is the pronounced home to hundreds of famous blues artists and the juke joints where they played.
Several musical genres are considered “spinoffs” of the blues style music. Rock-n-Roll and jazz are just a few examples. Blues music is an uniquely American musical form that has brought not only national attention but also worldwide recognition and is still thriving in the Mississippi Delta region today.Mississippi Blues Trail: A Beginning In Mississippi today, there are several programs that are designed to keep Mississippi’s rich blues history alive and to bring the tradition of blues music to future generations. The Mississippi Blues Trail is one of those programs that draw in blues music fans from all across the world who want a deeper knowledge and understanding of the music and its history.
With over 200 markers and counting, the trail is filled with the rich history the Mississippi Delta Blues holds. The trail does not have an exact starting point, but tourists are encouraged to map their own journey, from graves and birthplaces, to still standing juke joints. In 2003, the Mississippi Blues Commission was formed to preserve the history of blues music by placing markers all over the state identifying significant contributions to blues music thus creating the Mississippi Blues Trail in 2006. There are many qualifications a marker must have to become a part of the Mississippi Blues Trail. Most of these qualifications depend on what kind of marker is being requested. Below is a segment from the official Mississippi Blues Trail Site Selection Criteria page explaining the qualifications for a marker wanting to be dedicated to a blues musician: “Individual performers, songwriters, producers, radio station personnel, and others who were either born in Mississippi or lived in Mississippi who recognized by the international blues community of scholars and include individuals who may be known for their work in other genres but whose connections with and contributions to the blues or to the appreciation of the blues are undeniably significant (e.g., Elvis, Pops Staples, Jimmie Rodgers) .
. .” The Mississippi Blues Commission placed the first historical marker in Holly Ridge dedicated to Delta blues artist Charley Patton. Patton defined not only the blues music genre but also the image and lifestyle of the rugged Mississippi bluesman. A marker, to the trail recognizing Patton’s place of birth.
The second marker was placed in front of the Southern Whispers Restaurant on Nelson Street in Greenville. France. is because Nelson Street was home to many nightclubs, cafés, and juke joints through the years that were staples of blues music. Nelson Street used to be the vital center of African American lively hood in the Delta. For generations, this historic strip drew hundreds to the thriving club scene to listen and enjoy the Mississippi Delta Blues.
These markers were only the beginning of a much bigger project for the Mississippi Blues Trail.Mississippi Blues Trail: A Walk Along the Path The Mississippi Blues Commission, along with help from national grant money and funding from communities, has almost completed the Mississippi Blues Trail. It now consists of 215 markers in locations significant to the history of blues music in the state. There have also been multiple blues museums opened along the trail just in the last decade by the Mississippi Blues Commission, including the $15 million B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola. The number of blues festivals has also increased over the years from only a few to over 50 statewide. The Mississippi Blues trail follows the path of older and newer blues musicians such as Otis Rush, Jimmy Rodgers, Elvis Presley, B.
B. King, and many more great legends. Blues music formed both an artistic and emotional high with the talents of Otis Rush. Rush was a Neshoba County native, born just south of the town of Philadelphia in 1935. The musicians’ music was molded by the struggles and misery he faced while he was growing up. When Rush made his way to Chicago in the 1950s, he was a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and bandleader that set new standards for blues music and was a great inspiration to other artists.
A marker stands in his hometown of Philadelphia to commemorate his talents and achievements. Another great artist that is a part of the blues trail is Elvis Presley. Even though he is labeled as the “King of Rock and Roll”, Presley would use his musical talents and combine blues, country, rock, and gospel into his performances. The Tupelo native influenced many of the great blues musicians of today.
The marker that is dedicated to him in Tupelo honors his greatness. There are two markers dedicated to the blues legend B.B. King. One is placed at his Birthplace in Berclair, the other in Kilmichael honoring his roots. The marker recognizing his birthplace, his childhood and the hardships he and his family faced as sharecroppers. The second marker represents his many talents and his rise. The marker talks about how he came from nothing but did not let that stop him from striving for greatness.
The Mississippi Blues Trail does not especially recognize blues artist. When people think of Jimmie Rodgers, they think “Father of Country Music”, but he also played a major part in blues music. In fact, blues music was a large element in his ‘blues yodels’. Almost one-third of Rodgers music was blues music. Jimmie Rodgers’ marker is in his hometown of Meridian, along with the Jimmie Rodgers’ Museum, and was placed in honor of the impact he had on (at the time) modern blues music. The city of Meridian just recently unveiled the Meridian Blues and Jazz marker last month. It honors 30 blues musicians and figures including “Sonny” Williams and Eddie Houston.
29-year-old Jamell Richerdson is a blues artist who is known as “The Gulf Coast Blues Boy” and was one of the blues musicians honored on the Meridian marker. “Getting an honor on the marker, I was very, very shocked. Me being 29 years old, normally it’s old legends, but he let me know he was pretty much proud what I’m doing as far as to blues and what I bring to the blues for a new generation,” Richerdson tells WTOK-TV in Meridian. While many of the Mississippi Blues Trail markers are dedicated to famous blues musicians, several of them are dedicated to towns, restaurants, and sites that impacted blues culture. The city of Jackson has a marker recognizing a club that helps the city become a center for blues artists on into the 21st century, The Queen of Hearts. Much famous blues musician such as King Edward (Antoine), Cadillac George Harris, Tommy “T.
C.” Carter, Norman Clark, and Roosevelt Robinson, Jr. all performed at the club.
The Queen of Hearts marker is placed at the site of the former popular blues club. In the early 20th century, on the corner of highway 10 and highway 61 in Leland, early blues musicians could be found performing for tips (the main source of income for blues artists back then). This was a popular blues spot for early blues artists to come and perform for people out and about in the town. Saturday’s were the busiest days because that is when the people who lived in the rural county came into town. A marker was put on the corner to recognize the spot where so many musicians got their start. The Mississippi Blues Trail is spread all across the state, but what many do not know is that it spreads all across the globe as well. There are markers in Los Angeles, Memphis, Chicago, and many more.
Add more here. The growth of the blues recording industry in Chicago, Illinois brought many musicians to the windy city. Once blues artists became popular in Mississippi, and when they had earned enough money, they would travel to Chicago to land a record deal with a big-time blues producer. Many of those blues artists in Chicago that claimed Mississippi roots include Willie Dixon and Lil Green. The Sweet Home Chicago marker is just as important as any other marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail, for it is what jump-started blues artists from the state. The title came from blues musician Robert Johnson’s hit “Sweet Home Chicago”. No surprise that there is a marker placed in Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis blues played a huge part of the blues culture.
After World War II, many Mississippians natives such as Rufus Thomas, Junior Parker, and Elvis Presley became blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll recording artists in Memphis. By the 1920s many Mississippi bluesmen had moved to Memphis to perform in local theaters, cafes, and parks all along Beale Street. The mix of rural and urban musical traditions led to the creation of a new form of the blues style. Record companies from across the country set up temporary studios in the city to capture the sounds of Mississippians who came to record. Many of them where artists like Tommy Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Wilkins, Gus Cannon, Memphis Minnie, and Joe McCoy. The marker in this city represents the fame Memphis brought blue music.
Mississippi Blues music sits at the root of many branches of music celebrated at the annual GRAMMY® Awards. With the success of blues recordings by Mississippi bluesmen in the 1920s, the blues became an economically important part of the recording industry. The GRAMMY® Awards were created in 1958, a time when Rhythm and blues music was topping the charts. During the first few years of the awards, several Mississippi blues artists were nominated for awards. The first Mississippi blues artist to receive a GRAMMY® award was none other than B. B. King for his 1970 breakthrough hit, “The Thrill Is Gone.” This marker’s placement on the L.
A. LIVE campus recognizes the existence of The GRAMMY Museum®, which offers education on blues history and events that occasionally feature Mississippi artists .Mississippi Blues Trail: More than just Markers While the Mississippi Blues Trail is noted for its historical markers, the trail holds so much more than that. There are museums all along the trail that are full of blues history and knowledge. They are placed mostly in towns that had a large impact on the blues culture. Many blues towns also hold festivals to honor and preserve the timeless music.
Add more here. As mentioned early, there is a museum dedicated to B.B. King. The museum opened in 2008 and is complete with rare artifacts from the early blues era, many award-winning films, and the life story of the bluesman himself, B.B. King. Along with the B.
B. King Museum, there are also many other museums that spread all across the Mississippi Blues Trail. There is the Delta Blues Museum in Clarkdale, the Jimmie Rodgers Museum in Meridian, and so many more museums full of blues music history. Several traditional blues towns hold blues festivals year round to rejoice in the glory of old-school blues music.
Talk about more museums. The Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival is held every fall in Greenville. This festival is held in an effort to preserve Mississippi blues music and spread the music all across the globe. add something else about this!!!! On the Mississippi Gulf Coast Blues and Heritage Festival website’s homepage, an image of a marker proclaims that the annual gathering is one of the longest lasting blues festivals in south Mississippi. The festival has featured a variety of soul and blues over the years. It is considered to be one of the top festivals to honor blues music. Believe it or not the Mississippi Blues Trail route goes all the way to the other side of the world. After the jazz fad of the 1920s, blues admirers in the country of France drove global attention to African American music by releasing blues records and scheduling bluesmen tours.
The country became a huge part of blues history, specifically in Cahors France . The Cahors Blues Festival was first staged in 1982 and has grown over the last few decades. Blues musicians from across the globe perform at the festival, many of them being from Mississippi. The idea of the Cahors Blues Festival came to Frenchman Gérard Tertre in the 1970s.
Mississippi blues artists that performed at the festival over the decades include B.B. King, Otis Rush, Jimmy Johnson, Louis Myers, Magic Slim, and several more. The festival draws in thousands of blues enthusiasts each July. The marker dedicated to the French role in blues history is located at the site of this annual festival.
The country of Norway also played an important part in blues history with the annual Notodden Blues Festival. The festival began in 1988 and has been the stage for many Mississippi blues artists including, Bo Diddley, James Cotton, Super Chikan, and many more. Another reason Norway is so important to blues history is that 21 years ago, the city of Notodden and Clarksdale, Mississippi became sister cities. This was done to preserve blues culture and since then Norwegian blues artists have performed at Clarkdale’s annual Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival.