“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Woodville in Wilkinson County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)

Woodville Blues

Mississippi Blues Trail Marker

Woodville Blues Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jeff Lovorn, March 20, 2011
1. Woodville Blues Marker
Inscription. Musicians from Woodville demonstrate the breadth of the blues’s influence on American music. Composer William Grant Still incorporated the blues into his “Afro-American Symphony,” while the innovative saxophonist Lester “Pres” Young helped define the blues-infused jazz styles of the Count Basie orchestra and vocalist Billie Holiday. More traditional blues artists from the area include Scott Dunbar and his protégé Robert Cage.

William Grant Still (May 11, 1895 to December 3, 1978) is best known as the dean of African American classical composers, but he also played an important role in the commercialization and popularization of the blues. Born in Woodville and raised in Little Rock, Still began working in 1915 as an arranger and musician with W. C. Handy's band in Memphis, and later wrote arrangements of “St. Louis Blues” and other Handy compositions for a publishing company run by Handy and Harry Pace. In the early ‘20s Still served as music director of the African American-owned Black Swan label, where Ethel Waters and others recorded his original compositions. He performed in the orchestra for the historic African American musical Shuffle Along and wrote arrangements for various jazz bands before turning his attention more to classical composition.

Lester Young (August 27,
Woodville Blues Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jeff Lovorn, March 20, 2011
2. Woodville Blues Marker
1909 to March 14, 1959) was born in Woodville and moved to New Orleans as an infant. As a teen he played drums and saxophone in his father Billy Young’s band, the New Orleans Strutters. Young later worked with leading jazz bands, including the Blue Devils and the orchestras of Fletcher Henderson, Andy Kirk, Bennie Moten, and William “Count” Basie. Young’s smooth and influential approach to the tenor saxophone helped define and popularize the swing style of Basie’s band, which featured blues vocalist Jimmy Rushing. Young also performed and recorded extensively with vocalist Billie Holiday.

Scott Dunbar (July 1, 1909 to October 1, 1994), a blues guitarist, worked as a fishing guide on Lake Mary (or Old River Lake) northwest of Woodville. As a young man he played at local juke joints but later performed mostly for white audiences at lodges along the lake. He gained broader attention when Frederic Ramsey, Jr., recorded him in 1954 for an album on Folkways Records; fellow researchers William Ferris and Parker Dinkins later documented his music as well. Robert Cage (born April 4, 1937) studied the music of Dunbar at the juke joint operated by his parents in the Percy Creek community near Lake Mary. Cage later performed at local roadhouses and traveled outside the region after recording a CD in 1998 for the Fat Possum label; he sometimes performed with his son, bassist and vocalist Vincent “Buck” Cage. Other blues artists born in Woodville include Monroe “Polka Dot Slim” Vincent (December 9, 1926 to June 22, 1981), a vocalist/harmonica player who was based in New Orleans, and Jimmy Anderson (born November 21, 1934), a singer, harmonica player and guitarist who also worked as a disc jockey in Natchez. Both Vincent and Anderson recorded several singles in Louisiana.
Erected 2009 by Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 94.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 31° 6.186′ N, 91° 17.983′ W. Marker is in Woodville, Mississippi, in Wilkinson County. Marker is on Bank Street, on the right when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Woodville MS 39669, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. William Grant Still (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Wilkinson County War Memorial (about 300 feet away); Woodville (about 400 feet away); Fort Adams (about 600 feet away); The Woodville Republican (approx. 0.2 miles away); St. Paul's Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); Carnot Posey Home (approx. 0.2 miles away); Beth Israel Cemetery (approx. 0.6 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Woodville.
Categories. African AmericansEntertainment
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Jeff Lovorn of Florence, Mississippi. This page has been viewed 363 times since then and 54 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Jeff Lovorn of Florence, Mississippi. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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