New Albany in Union County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Mosley and Johnson
Although the African American community of New Albany has been small in number, it has produced many citizens of distinction. In the fields of blues, rhythm & blues, and gospel music, the names of Sam Mosley, Bob Johnson, Billy Ball, the Rev. Leon Pinson, and Elder Roma Wilson are known around the world. Mosley and Johnson, who launched a prolific creative partnership in 1967, performed together for 31 years and wrote songs for many of the top artists in blues.
Sam Mosley & Bob Johnson drafted their own hometown success story by utilizing their skills as performers, producers, and songwriters throughout their long tenure together in New Albany. As Mosley & Johnson, the team recorded several albums of blues and southern soul in the 1980s and '90s for the Muscle Shoals Sound and Malaco labels, but found a more lucrative niche as songwriters for Malaco artists Johnnie Taylor, Bobby Bland, Little Milton, and others. They recorded their first album, Mississippi Mud, on their own Sabo label in 1971, as Sam and Bob & the Soulmen. They also recorded in the 1970s for Polydor under the name Mojoba.
New Albany native Billy Ball, a pianist-saxophonist, shared Mosley and Johnson's approach by blending blues with soul music, R&B, and funk, but took a different path, establishing himself in Indianapolis, Indiana. He sang gospel with a family unit, the Ball Quartet, before joining the Tupelo band of George “Bally” Smith in the early '50s. He formed his own group, Billy Ball & the Upsetters, in 1957. After moving to Indiana,
Another musical lineage that has been traced back to New Albany is that of the Morganfield family who lived here in the 1800s. Dave Morganfield was one of several family members born into slavery who were enumerated in the first post-Civil War census here in 1870, when New Albany was still a part of Pontotoc County. His grandson, McKinley Morganfield, born in Issaquena County, went on to worldwide blues fame under the name Muddy Waters, and a number of other Morganfields were active in gospel music.
Erected 2008 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 59.)
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.
Location. 34° 29.704′ N, 89° 0.329′ W. Marker is in New Albany, Mississippi, in Union County. Marker is at the intersection of Cleveland Street and Washington Street, on the right when traveling east on Cleveland Street. Located next to the Union County Heritage Museum. Touch for map. Marker is Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. William Faulkner (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Union County, Mississippi (approx. 0.2 miles away); New Albany, Mississippi (approx. 0.3 miles away); Elder Roma Wilson & Rev. Leon Pinson (approx. 0.6 miles away); Glenfield Baptist Church (approx. 2.3 miles away); Stratford Company (approx. 2.6 miles away); Ishtehotopah (approx. 3.1 miles away); Myrtle (approx. 7.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New Albany.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 30, 2017. It was originally submitted on August 12, 2016, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 187 times since then and 14 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on August 12, 2016, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.