Blues music has been highly influential in the growth of nearly every genre of popular American music: jazz, rock, hip-hop, and even folk and country. It all started near here; musicologist Alan Lomax called his pioneering work on blues music “The Land Where The Blues Began,” and he meant Mississippi.
To do honor to one of the best-known exports from Mississippi and the South, check out the Mississippi Blues Trail near HELiX Starkville Student Apartments. The Mississippi Blues Trail is a series of markers throughout the state that provides brief sketches of the creators of the blues and their musical history.
The one nearest Starkville is called Oktibbeha County Blues, and it provides homage to several bluesmen. (A map to the marker can be found on the Web site.) The most prominent of these blues musicians was Big Joe Williams, whose “Baby, Please Don’t Go” is one of the best-known blues numbers. (Hear him sing and play the guitar on it through the magic of YouTube.)
Nearby, in Ackerman, there is also a Mississippi Blues Trail marker commemorating one of the indelible songs, “Two Steps from the Blues,” whose author, “Texas” Johnny Brown, was born there. (He gets the moniker “Texas” from the fact that he moved to Texas in his teens, during the 1940s)
The Mississippi Blues Trail is extensive throughout the state and well worth checking into. It is part of the movement toward commemorating the vibrant music of the U.S. and its worldwide influence. Funding for it is underwritten by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Mississippi Department of Transportation, among other organizations.
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