Mississippi Blues Trail
The Mississippi Blues Trail was created by the Mississippi Blues Commission in 2006 to place interpretive markers at the most notable historical sites related to the birth, growth and influence of the blues throughout (and in some cases beyond) the state of Mississippi. Within the state the trail extends from the Gulf Coast north along several highways to Natchez, Vicksburg, Jackson, Leland, Greenwood, Clarksdale, Tunica, Grenada, Oxford, Columbus, Meridian and many other points. The largest concentration of markers is in the Mississippi Delta but other regions of the state are also represented. Several out-of-state markers have also been erected where blues with Mississippi roots has had significance.
The list of markers and locations was developed by a panel of blues scholars and historians. The trail has been implemented in stages as funds have become available. The National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Mississippi Department of Transportation have provided grant for funding of various markers, which are co-sponsored with funds from local communities. The marker texts are researched and written by former Living Blues magazine editors Jim O'Neal and Scott Barretta in conjunction with an editorial and design team that has included Wanda Clark, Chrissy Wilson, Allan Hammons and Sylvester Oliver.
More blues singers in the Blues Hall of Fame have come from the state of Mississippi than from any other state. These include Son House, Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Muddy Waters, Skip James, Bukka White, John Lee Hooker, Elmore James, Ike Turner, Junior Parker, Jimmy Reed. Little Milton, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and B. B. King. Markers have been erected in honor of these artists and dozens of others.
Prior to the founding of the Mississippi Blues Trail, two preliminary markers were placed in Indianola, Mississippi, at a corner where B.B. King played as a young man and at the Club Ebony.
The second marker is located in front of the Southerm Whispers Restaurant on Nelson Street in Greenville. Nelson Street, the home of many nightclubs, cafes and juke joints over the years, was once the primary center of African American business, entertainment and social life in the Delta. For many decades this historic strip drew crowds to the flourishing club scene to hear Delta blues, big band jump blues, rhythm & blues and jazz.
By the end of 2013, the Mississippi Blues Trail had placed 173 markers, not only in honor of individual artists, clubs, record companies, radio stations and historic events, but also in celebration of plantations, streets, cities and counties that were centers of blues activity, as well as at Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, where folklorists have recorded blues by inmates (most notably Bukka White) on several occasions dating back to the 1930s.
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Locations are in Mississippi unless otherwise stated.
- Widen, Larry. "JS Online: Blues trail". www.jsonline.com. Retrieved 2008-05-29.
- "Mississippi Blues Commission - Blues trail". Retrieved 2007-02-09.
- "Haley Barbour Unveils First Marker of Mississippi Blues Trail". Jazz News. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
- "Blues Matters! - Delta sites to be included on new blues trail". www.bluesmatters.com. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
- "BLUES TRAIL MARKS PARCHMAN AS MAJOR INFLUENCE." State of Mississippi. September 23, 2010. Retrieved on October 3, 2010.
- "Mississippi honors Houston's Texas Johnny Brown - Houston Chronicle". Chron.com. 2011-09-01. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
- Mississippi Blues Trail list and map
- Delta Blues in the Lower Mississippi Valley, Indianola
- Mississippi Blues Highway Registry