Bruce in Calhoun County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Calhoun County Blues
The musical heritage of Calhoun County was illuminated in 2014 via international acclaim for longtime Bruce resident and Sabougla native Leo “Bud” Welch, The guitarist and vocalist began playing blues in his teens and returned to the music in his 80s after a long career as a gospel musician. Saxophonist John “Ace” Cannon, whose many instrumental singles and albums featured blues and soul songs, settled in 1988 in Calhoun City, the hometown of his parents.
Leo “Bud” Welch is the most prominent blues musician to come out of Calhoun County, a relatively isolated area known for its logging and lumber industries, both of which Welch worked in for decades. Welch was born in the Sabougla community on March 22, 1932, and grew up on the family farm. A fan of the Grand Ole Opry, Welch began performing on guitar in his early teens with his younger brother Arlanda and their cousin L.C. Welch. At 18 Welch played over Grenada’s WNAG together with vocalist/guitarist Alford Harris, who later made recordings in Chicago, and guitarist Walter Farmer. After settling in Bruce, he returned to playing with his brother and cousin, often opening for touring acts at George Chandler’s Blue Angel Ballroom (also known locally as the Blue Room and “the juke”),
For much of the 1960s Welch played solo at houseparties, and in the ’70s formed the group Leo Welch and the Rising Souls, which performed at clubs including the Daniel Inn in Bruce, the Green Gable in Mantee and the Horse Pen in western Calhoun County. In 1975 Welch began playing regularly with gospel groups including his own Sabougla Voices, the Skuna Valley Male Chorus and the Spiritualaires. In the early ’80s he began hosting the video-based TV program Black Gospel on Bruce’s local W07BN. Welch’s return to blues followed his performance in 2013 at the 50th birthday party of Calhoun City native Vencie Varnado, who became his manager and began booking Welch locally and eventually overseas, and arranged a recording contract with Oxford’s Big Legal Mess label.
Erected 2016 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 194.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Bruce MS 38915, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 3 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Calhoun County War Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Thomas T. Gore (approx. 9.6 miles away); Calhoun County Veterans Monument (approx. 9.6 miles away).
Also see . . .
1. Leo "Bud" Welch website. (Submitted on August 29, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
2. Wikipedia article on Ace Cannon. (Submitted on August 29, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Categories. • African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment •
Credits. This page was last revised on August 29, 2017. This page originally submitted on August 29, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 62 times since then and 9 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on August 29, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.