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Oktibbeha County has produced several Blues artists who achieved fame for their recordings and live performances in Chicago, California, or other areas. Blues Hall of Famer Big Joe Williams (c. 1903-1982), who waxed the classic "Baby Please Don't Go," was born close to Noxubee Swamp on the southern edge of the county. Tony Hollins (1910-c. 1959), who hailed from the Starkville-Osborn area, and Sturgis native Lou Thomas Watts (1934-1970) a.k.a. Kid Thomas, left small but significant bodies of recorded work.
Blues Marker honoring Otha Turner, a master of the fife and drum who attracted an international following as a fife player, preserving a historic fife and drum music tradition that predated the Blues.
For several decades beginning in the early 1900s, the Queen City Hotel, which stood across the street from this site, was at the center of a vibrant African-American community along 7th Avenue North. Clubs and cafes in the area featured Blues, Jazz, and Rhythm & Blues, and the hotel housed visiting musical celebrities, including B. B. King, Duke Ellington, and James Brown, as well as African-American professional athletes. The hotel was founded by a former slave, Robert Walker.
A seminal figure in the history of the Delta Blues, Robert Johnson (1911-1938), synthesized the music of Delta Blues pioneers such as Son House with outside traditions. He in turn influenced artists such as Muddy Waters and Elmore James. Johnson's compositions, notable for their poetic qualities, include the standards "Sweet Home Chicago" and Dust My Broom." Johnson's mysterious life and early death continue to fascinate modern fans. He is thought to be buried in this graveyard.
This Blues Trail Marker honors Robert Nighthawk, American blues musician born on Nov. 30, 1909. A blues musician, Nighthawk played and recorded under the pseudonyms Robert Lee McCoy and others. He was born in Helena, Arkansas, but grew up in Friars Point, MS.
Rosedale was immortalized in Robert Johnson's 1937 recording Traveling Riverside Blues..
Ruby's Nite Spot, operated at this site by Ruby Edwards, was one of the most prominent Blues clubs in the Delta during the 1940s and '50s. Edwards booked nationally-known acts such as T-Bone Walker, Little Walter, and Little Richard, newcomers Ike Turner and Little Milton, and down-home Delta Bluesmen Son Thomas and Eddie Cusic, among many others. Patrons here could dine, drink, dance, and gamble into the wee hours of the morning, long after clubs in nearby Greenville and Indianola had closed.
Sam Carr, Bertha Lee, and Frank Frost Blues Trail Marker is set in Lula, MS where they grew up. All of them made the Blues famous in the 1920's and 1930's. Lee was most famous for recording with and being the wife of Charlie Patton.
Sam Chatmon (c. 1899-1983), a celebrated singer and guitarist who spent most of his life in Hollandale, sometimes performed with his brothers in a renowned family string band billed as the Mississippi Sheiks. He embarked on a new solo career after coming out of musical retirement in the 1960s. Many local musicians have performed here on Simmons Street, known as "the Blue Front," once one of the most vibrant centers of Blues activity in the Delta.
The haunting quality of Nehemiah “Skip” James’s music earned him a reputation as one of the great early Mississippi bluesmen. James (1902-1969) grew up at the Woodbine Plantation and as a youth learned to play both guitar and piano. At his 1931 session for Paramount he recorded eighteen songs, including the dark-themed “Devil Got My Woman” and “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues.” He later became a minister, but returned to performing blues during the 1960s “blues revival.”
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