Tate County Blues: Coldwater
Coldwater exemplifies how much talent can emanate from even the smallest towns of Mississippi. From the 1960s to the early 1980s the area was home to leading hill country bluesman R. L. Burnside, who made his first recordings here in 1967 for folklorist George Mitchell with accompaniment from harmonica player W.C. Veasey. Mitchell also recorded a friend of Burnside's, guitarist Jesse Vortis (1920-1978). Vortis and harmonicists Ulysee (Ulysses) “Red” Ramsey (1927-1997) and Johnny Woods (1917-1990) also later recorded with Burnside locally. In 1978 a team led by folklorist Alan Lomax filmed Burnside at his home in nearby Independence. Burnside’s informal musical gatherings often featured his
The Burton family produced several musicians who migrated north to Chicago. Aron (b. 1938) sang gospel with his cousin Reuben in the Victory Travelers before playing blues in Chicago with Freddie King, Junior Wells, Fenton Robinson , and many others. Aron's mother, fearing for his safety after the murder of another African American teenager, Emmett Till, in Mississippi, sent him to Chicago in 1955. Aron and his brother Larry (b. 1951) attracted widespread attention when they began recording and touring with Albert Collins’ Icebreakers in 1978. Larry also worked with Albert King and Jimmy Johnson, and both recorded solo albums and as the Burton Brothers Blues Band. Brother Willie played saxophone, and sister Ann married bluesman Johnny Littlejohn, whose recordings sometimes featured Aron and Larry. Big Time Sarah Streeter (b. 1953) moved to Little Rock and then to Chicago at age seven, and made her club debut at fourteen singing with the Aces. In 1976 she joined pianist Sunnyland Slim, who recorded her first single for his Airway label and took her to Europe. Streeter campaigned to increase the visibility of female blues artists
Soul vocalist Bill Coday (1942-2008) began performing in Arkansas before moving in the early ’60s to Chicago, where he recorded for vocalist/songwriter Denise LaSalle 's Crajon label. His 1971 single “Get Your Lie Straight” was a national R&B hit. Coday later recorded for Memphis-based Ecko Records. Blind ballad singer Al Hibbler (1915-2001), a Tyro native, joined Jay McShann’s orchestra in 1942. In 1943 he began an eight-year stint singing with Duke Ellington. His 1955 version of “Unchained Melody” reached No. 3 in the pop charts. Another Hibbler, nicknamed “Son,” was recalled by R. L. Burnside as a guitarist he heard in his early days. Son Hibbler later played gospel music, as did another local guitarist whose style reflected the influence of blues, Joe Townsend.
Erected 2012 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 165.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail 🎶 series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1967.
Location. 34° 41.282′ N, 89° 58.617′ W. Marker is in Coldwater, Mississippi, in Tate County
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Senatobia (approx. 4.8 miles away); Sid Hemphill (approx. 5 miles away); Tate County World War I Memorial (approx. 5.3 miles away); Bethesda Cemetery (approx. 5.3 miles away); Jessie Mae Hemphill (approx. 6.6 miles away); March Against Fear (approx. 7.7 miles away); Springhill Cemetery (approx. 9 miles away); Hernando Central School (approx. 9 miles away).
Credits. This page was last revised on May 28, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 28, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 31 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on May 28, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.