Grenada in Grenada County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Grenada County-bred blues has long been an influential force in popular music. Musicians whose talents were nurtured in the Grenada area have included St. Louis bluesmen Walter Davis, a major blues recording artist of the 1930s, and Big George Brock, a world-renowned singer-harmonica player; Chicago blues guitar masters Magic Sam (Maghett) and Magic Slim (Holt); and Eddie Willis, a premier session musician whose guitar playing infused the Motown sound of Detroit with a taste of Mississippi blues.
Grenada musicians followed various paths to success, many joining the migration of Mississippians to Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit. Two of these first blues artists to make recordings, in 1927, were Grenada County natives who moved to Memphis, female vocalist Arah “Baby” Moore (1900-1965) and guitarist Will Weldon (c. 1904-1934) of the Memphis Jug Band. Memphians with Grenada roots also included William Brown, who recorded for the Library of Congress in 1942, and blues icon Bukka White (c. 1904-1977), who once lived on a Grenada farm.
St. Louis became home base
The Grenada area guitarist whose work has been most widely heard is Eddie Willis (born in Gore Springs in 1936). His accompaniments with the Funk Brothers studio group graced a multitude of Motown hits by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, Temptations, Four Tops and others. He also recorded with Mississippi-born bluesmen John Lee Hooker, Albert King and Eddie Burns. As a youngster Willis and a brood of Thompson stepbrothers and -sisters played a one-string guitar constructed of broom wire. Willis also learned fiddle from Will Chairs (c. 1917-2000), one of a number of fiddle players who entertained at local picnics and parties. Willis, who moved to Detroit in the early 50s, returned to Gore Springs in 1991.
Erected 2014 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 174.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music Entertainment. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1927.
Location. 33° 47.1′ N, 89° 48.156′ W. Marker is in Grenada, Mississippi, in Grenada County. Marker is at the intersection of 1st Street and Green Street, on the right when traveling east on 1st Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 104 1st Street, Grenada MS 38901, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Grenada County Confederate Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); J. Augustine Signaigo (within shouting distance of this marker); Grenada Depot (approx. 0.3 miles away); Belle Flower M.B. Church (approx. 0.4 miles away); a different marker also named J. Augustine Signaigo (approx. 0.4 miles away); Edward C. Walthall (approx. half a mile away); Magic Slim (approx. 0.6 miles away); Odd Fellows/Confederate Cemetery (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Grenada.
Also see . . . MS Blues Trail marker installation in Grenada. (You Tube video). (Submitted on October 27, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Credits. This page was last revised on August 30, 2017. It was originally submitted on October 27, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 404 times since then and 25 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on October 27, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.