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

Grenada Blues

 
 
Grenada Blues Marker (Front) image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
1. Grenada Blues Marker (Front)
Inscription.  
Front
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.

Rear
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
Grenada Blues Marker (Rear) image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
2. Grenada Blues Marker (Rear)
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in the 1920s for Blues Hall of Fame pianist Walter Davis (1911-1963), one of the most prolific blues recording artists of the ‘30s and ‘40s. His hits “Come Back Baby,” “Angel Child,” and “13 Highway” were later recorded by Ray Charles, Memphis Slim and Muddy Waters. Onetime boxer Big George Brock, born in Yalobusha County in 1932, displayed heavyweight harmonica playing and singing in the Delta and St. Louis and recorded CDs and DVDs for Cat Head in Clarksdale. St. Louis blues guitar phenom Marquise Knox (b. 1991), has also claimed Grenada connections through his mother and guitar-playing uncles who were born here.

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.

In
Photos from back of marker. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
3. Photos from back of marker.
Click on photo for closeup
Chicago, artists with Grenada roots included influential guitarists Magic Sam (1937-1969) and his friend Magic Slim (1937-2013), harmonica player Alford “Blues King” Harris (1925-1986), who once had a local program on WNAG radio, keyboardist Cornell Harris Williams (“The Big DooWopper,” b. 1953) and guitarist Tre Hardiman (b. 1957). In Los Angeles, audiences have been treated to the guitar work of Kee Eso (Keyzo) Pitchford (b. 1973). Saxophonist Frank Wright (1925-1990), who was raised in Cleveland, Ohio, played with B.B. King and Bobby Bland before making a name as a free-jazz musician. The legendary Mississippi John Hurt (c. 1893-1966) once had a home in Grenada and his son, guitarist John William “Man” Hurt (b. 1932) also lived here. The local blues roster has also included Lewis Johnson, Little Will, Wade Allen, the Strickland brothers, James Willis, Frank Rimmer, Walter “Son Baby” Herron, Willie Kincaide, and Don “Tiny” Kincaide. Many bands played at juke joints on Union Street.
 
Erected 2014 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 174.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansArts, Letters, Music
View of marker in Public Square park. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
4. View of marker in Public Square park.
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.)
 
The view east on 1st Street towards Main Street. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
5. The view east on 1st Street towards Main Street.
 
 
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 311 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on October 27, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.

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Jul. 24, 2021