Mississippi is known as the land where the blues was born, but that’s not our only claim to fame. We are the Birthplace of America’s Music, thanks to the global impact of blues music on genres from rock ‘n’ roll to country and gospel. In Mississippi, you can experience the blues in a way that’s authentic and authoritative, thanks to our many music attractions, sites, and live music venues. Hey, hey – the blues isn’t just all right in Mississippi. It’s red hot.
B.B. King is regarded among music critics and fans alike to be one of the most influential blues performers ever. Throughout his career, King was a tremendous ambassador for the music and for his home state of Mississippi. At the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, you can learn about B.B. King’s life, influences, and impact. And, of course, you can see several of his “Lucille” guitars, his Grammys, and even a recreation of his home studio.
Established in 1979, the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale is the state’s oldest music museum. Permanent exhibits include the core section of a cabin where Muddy Waters lived while working at Stovall Farms; a “Muddywood” guitar made from salvaged wood from the cabin that was donated by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top; guitars that belonged to John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, and Big Joe Williams; and a piano, shoes, harmonica, and other memorabilia from Charlie Musselwhite.
When it opened in 2016, GRAMMY Museum Mississippi was the first GRAMMY Museum to be built outside of Los Angeles. While the museum is dedicated to a broad spectrum of Mississippi music, highlighting the disproportionate number of GRAMMY winners from Mississippi, the state’s blues legends are well represented in the museum’s displays and interactive exhibits. Look for information about traveling exhibits and live performances on their website.
Currently, there are more than 200 historic markers on the Mississippi Blues Trail that are distributed throughout the state – and even in locales from Chicago to Notodden, Norway, that have been impacted by Mississippi’s blues legacy. Highlights include Elvis Presley’s birthplace in Tupelo, the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, and Robert Johnson’s gravesite in Greenwood.
Bobby Rush is a blues musician, composer, and singer from Jackson, Mississippi. Over the course of his 70+ years in music, Rush has released more than 400 recordings, including 27 studio albums. Rush has won two GRAMMY® awards for best traditional blues album, in 2017 and 2020, and has been nominated four times. Rush’s memoir of his life in music, I Ain’t Studdin Ya’, was released in 2022.
James “Super Chikan” Johnson is a blues musician based in Clarksdale. Johnson is a W. C. Handy Award nominee and has been recognized by the Mississippi Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts. In 2010, he received a Blues Music Award for Traditional Blues Album of the Year. Johnson is also an accomplished artist and instrument builder who makes and decorates his own guitars using salvaged guitar parts and found objects.
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes is a Mississippi blues performer and proprietor of the Blue Front Cafe, the oldest surviving juke joint in Mississippi (and, according to some, America). Holmes is known as the last of the Bentonia bluesmen, practicing a distinct style of Mississippi blues that was popularized by Skip James, Jack Owens and other blues musicians from Bentonia. He has released eight albums, including his latest Cypress Grove, which was nominated as Best Traditional Blues Album at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards in 2021.