Kosciusko in Attala County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
By Cosmos Mariner, May 29, 2013
1. Charlie Musselwhite Marker (side 1)
World-renowned harmonica virtuoso Charlie Musselwhite was born in Kosciusko on January 31, 1944. His great uncle, Lamar Coalson, once owned the store that occupied this site. Musselwhite began playing in Memphis and rose to prominence in Chicago, where he was befriended and mentored in the 1960s by many blues musicians who had also migrated from Mississippi. A perennial winner of blues awards and polls, he received a Mississippi Governor's Award in 2000.
Charlie Musselwhite lived with his family at the corner of North and Wells streets in Kosciusko until they moved to Memphis in the fall of 1947, when he was three. He often returned to visit relatives here and in the Delta, and after he began headlining blues festivals in the area in the 1990s, he invested in property in Clarksdale.
Attracted to the blues as a teenager in Memphis, Musselwhite learned guitar and harmonica and sought out the blues singers he had read about in the book The Country Blues by Sam Charters (who later produced Musselwhite's debut album). Will Shade, Furry Lewis, and Memphis Willie B. (Borum) became
his first mentors. In November of 1962 Musselwhite moved to Chicago in search of employment, first settling in the Uptown area where many white southern migrants lived. He was soon immersed in the African American music and lifestyle of the South Side, however, and in 1964 he moved there to be closer to the blues. In 1963-64 he also roomed at the Jazz Record Mart and the Old Wells Record Shop with Big Joe Williams, one of many former Mississippians residing in the Windy City. Others, including Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Big Walter Horton, and Magic Sam, also became close friends with Musselwhite, who later cited Horton, Williams, Homesick James, and John Lee Granderson as the bluesmen who taught him the most. He also acknowledged Little Walter and Robert Nighthawk as major influences.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 29, 2013
2. Charlie Musselwhite Marker (side 2)
As Musselwhite's reputation grew as a performer in the blues clubs, Sam Charters invited him to record for the Vanguard label. His Stand Back! album of 1967 created such a stir, especially among audiences that were just discovering the blues as a voice of the '60s counterculture in California, that Musselwhite relocated to the San Francisco area in August of that year. A number of fellow Chicagoans including Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield also made the westward move, as did Musselwhite's friend John Lee Hooker from Detroit.
Although many white musicians had already
adapted the blues into their country, rock 'n’ roll, jazz, or folk music styles, Musselwhite always maintained a blues persona even while exploring a variety of American and world music genres. His trend-setting dedication to blues made him a role model, especially among harmonica players on the West Coast. Over the next four decades Musselwhite toured the world and recorded some thirty albums, many of which earned W. C. Handy Awards or Grammy nominations. When he and his wife, Henrietta, were married on January 26, 1981, in San Francisco, John Lee Hooker served as his best man.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 29, 2013
3. Charlie Musselwhite Marker (side 2; wide view; Attala County Courthouse in background)
This project was funded in part by grants from U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Mississippi Department of Transportation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Erected 2009 by Mississippi Blues Trail. (Marker Number 70.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 33° 3.518′ N, 89° 35.43′ W. Marker is in Kosciusko, Mississippi, in Attala County. Marker is on West Washington Street west of North Jackson Street, on the right when traveling west. Marker is located along the sidewalk, on the north side of Washington Street,
at the middle of the block and directly across Washington Street from the Attala County Courthouse. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 132 West Washington Street, Kosciusko MS 39090, United States of America. Touch for directions.
4. Marker detail: Backstage at the 1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival
Charlie Musselwhite with Big Joe Williams, who gave him the name "Memphis Charlie."
Photo: Bob Koester (proprietor of the Jazz Record Mart in Chicago where Musselwhite and Williams once lived in the basement)
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within 15 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Attala County (within shouting distance of this marker); MFWC Birthplace (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Kosciusko (approx. 0.2 miles away); Hurricane Creek (approx. 4.1 miles away); New Hope Lutheran Church (approx. 10.3 miles away); Cole Creek (approx. 14½ miles away); Bethel Mission (approx. 15.1 miles away).
Also see . . . Mississippi Blues Trail. (Submitted on February 18, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Categories. • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment •
5. Marker detail: Charlie Musselwhite in Memphis, 1960
(top) Velma Eubanks rook care of young Charles Douglas Musselwhite III when his parents were away during World War II. His father served in the U.S. Navy, and his mother, who took this photo on May 1, 1945, had a civil service job in New Jersey.
(left) Charlie Musselwhite in Memphis, 1960
(right) Henrietta and Charlie Musselwhite with Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker in 1980
(bottom) Musselwhite at the 2005 Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival, Clarksdale
6. Marker detail: Other Kosciusko and Attala County natives who have been active in the blues
Other Kosciusko and Attala County natives who have been active in the blues include noted saxophonist J. T. Brown (c. 1908-1969) and guitarist L. C. Roby (born in 1944), who both moved to Chicago; guitarist K. C. “Coot” Harmon (b. 1939), who made Cleveland, Ohio, his new home base; singer Taft Jr. Hawthorne (b. 1944), known as “The Sam Cooke of the South''; fiddle and mandolin player Ezell Lowery (1910-2001) and his brother; bassist Tony Lowery (1905-1989), of the Lowery Brothers Band.
Multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Smith (b. 1938) and singer, guitarist, and storyteller James Douglas “J. D.” Suggs (1886-1955) both moved to Michigan, and some research indicates that prewar bluesman Papa Harvey Hull, who made records in Chicago in 1927, was born in Zilpha, c. 1889, and died in 1962.
More. Search the internet for Charlie Musselwhite.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 20, 2019. This page originally submitted on February 18, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 64 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on February 18, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.