Brinkley in Monroe County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)
Sounds from the Soil & Soul
— Arkansas Delta Music Trail —
Willie Cobbs was born July 15, 1932 in Smale, a small farming town near Brinkley in Monroe County, Arkansas. Known as an American blues singer, harmonica player, songwriter, and nightclub owner, his recording career has spanned six decades. His best-known composition, "You Don't Love Me," was recorded in 1960 for Billy Lee Riley's Memphis-based Mojo label.
During his childhood, Cobbs was involved in gospel music within his community. He went to Chicago as young man, where his career as a harmonica and blues performer was jump-started by harmonica musician Little Walter (Marion Walter Jacobs). After serving in the National Guard from 1952-1956, he returned to Chicago in 1958 as a singer-songwriter.
In the 1960s, he operated the Blue Flame blues club in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and later opened another club in DeWitt. He ran nightclubs in Arkansas and Mississippi through the 1970s and 1980s. Cobbs went on to release his first album, Hey Little Girl, in 1986 and his first CD album, Down to Earth, in 1994.
After living in Mississippi for a time, he semi-retired and returned to his family home at Smale, playing
Along with the Chicago Blues Festival, Cobbs has been a frequent performer at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas, and received the "Sonny Payne Award of Blues Excellence" in 2013 from the Delta Cultural Center in Helena. He appeared in movies such as Memphis and in 1991 Mississippi Masala performing the song "Angel Heaven" and "Sad Feelin'".
The music of the Arkansas Delta is the music of America. With roots in gospel or "church music," the blues, jazz, country, and rock n' roll flowed from the rich, fertile landscape bordering the lower Mississippi River and spread out across the country and the world. Follow the Arkansas Delta Music Trail to experience the sounds that shaped the land, its people, and the nation.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment.
Location. 34° 53.266′ N, 91° 11.491′ W. Marker is in Brinkley, Arkansas, in Monroe County. Marker is at the intersection of West Cypress Street and North New Orleans Avenue, on the left when traveling east on West Cypress Street. The marker is in front of the Central Delta Depot Museum. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 100 W Cypress Street, Brinkley AR 72021, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Louis Jordan (a few steps from this marker); 1921 Brass Bell (within shouting distance of this marker); 100 West Cyprus Street (within shouting distance of this marker); American Legion Memorial (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Battle of Cache River or Cotton Plant (approx. 8.8 miles away); Woodruff County Courthouse (approx. 8.8 miles away); Action at Cotton Plant (approx. 9.2 miles away); Moro in the Civil War / Prelude to Helena (approx. 13.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Brinkley.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 10, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 9, 2021, by Thomas Smith of Waterloo, Ill. This page has been viewed 25 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on May 9, 2021, by Thomas Smith of Waterloo, Ill. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.