Jessie Mae Hemphill
Hemphill in the 1980s
|Birth name||Jessie Mae Hemphill|
|Born||October 18, 1923|
near Como and Senatobia, Mississippi, U.S.
|Died||July 22, 2006 82) (aged|
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
|Genres||North Mississippi hill country blues|
Jessie Mae Hemphill (October 18, 1923 – July 22, 2006)was an American electric guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist specializing in the North Mississippi hill country blues traditions of her family and regional heritage.
Hill country blues is a regional style of country blues. It is characterized by a strong emphasis on rhythm and percussion, steady guitar riffs, few chord changes, unconventional song structures, and heavy emphasis on the "groove", which has been characterized as the "hypnotic boogie".
Hemphill was born near Como and Senatobia, Mississippi,in the northern Mississippi hill country, just east of the Mississippi Delta. She began playing the guitar at the age of seven. She also played drums in local fife-and-drum bands, beginning with the band led by her paternal grandfather, Sid Hemphill, in which she played snare drum and bass drum. Aside from sitting in at Memphis bars a few times in the 1950s, most of her playing was done in family and informal settings, such as picnics with fife-and-drum music, until she was recorded in 1979.
Como is a town in Panola County, Mississippi, which borders the Mississippi Delta and is in the northern part of the state, known as hill country. The population was 1,310 as of the 2000 census. It is in a relatively isolated rural area, which has struggled with the legacy of slavery, segregation and agricultural decline.
Senatobia is a city in and the county seat of Tate County, Mississippi, and is the 16th largest municipality in the Memphis Metropolitan Area. The population was 8,165 at the 2010 census.
The Mississippi Delta, also known as the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta, is the distinctive northwest section of the U.S. state of Mississippi which lies between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers. The region has been called "The Most Southern Place on Earth", because of its unique racial, cultural, and economic history. It is 200 miles (320 km) long and 87 miles (140 km) across at its widest point, encompassing about 4,415,000 acres (17,870 km2), or, almost 7,000 square miles of alluvial floodplain. Originally covered in hardwood forest across the bottomlands, it was developed as one of the richest cotton-growing areas in the nation before the American Civil War (1861–1865). The region attracted many speculators who developed land along the riverfronts for cotton plantations; they became wealthy planters dependent on the labor of black slaves, who comprised the vast majority of the population in these counties well before the Civil War, often twice the number of whites.
Her first recordings were field recordings made by the blues researcher George Mitchell in 1967 and the ethnomusicologist David Evans in 1973, but they were not released. She was then known as Jessie Mae Brooks, using the surname from a brief early marriage. In 1978, Evans came to Memphis, Tennessee, to teach at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis). The school founded the High Water Recording Company in 1979 to promote interest in the regional music of the South. Evans made the first high-quality field recordings of Hemphill in that year and soon after produced her first sessions for High Water.
George Mitchell is an American record producer and music historian.
David Evans is an American ethnomusicologist and director of the Ethnomusicology/Regional Studies program at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music in the University of Memphis, where he has worked since 1978.
Memphis is a city located along the Mississippi River in southwestern Shelby County, Tennessee, United States. The 2017 city population was 652,236, making Memphis the largest city on the Mississippi River, the second most populous city in Tennessee, as well as the 26th largest city in the United States. Greater Memphis is the 42nd largest metropolitan area in the United States, with a population of 1,348,260 in 2017. The city is the anchor of West Tennessee and the greater Mid-South region, which includes portions of neighboring Arkansas and Mississippi. Memphis is the seat of Shelby County, the most populous county in Tennessee. As one of the most historic and cultural cities of the southern United States, the city features a wide variety of landscapes and distinct neighborhoods.
Hemphill launched a recording career in the early 1980s.In 1981 her first full-length album, She-Wolf, was licensed from High Water and released by the French label Disques Vogue. In the early 1980s, she performed in a Mississippi drum corps assembled by Evans; it included Hemphill, Abe Young, and Jim Harper (who also played on Tav Falco's Panther Burns's album Behind the Magnolia Curtain). Hemphill performed in another drum group with Young and fife-and-drum band veteran Othar Turner for the television program Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood . The French label Black & Blue Records released other recordings by her. Hemphill played concerts across the United States and in other countries, including France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and Canada. In 1987 and 1988 she received the W. C. Handy Award for best traditional female blues artist. In 1987 she made her New York debut, accompanied by Evans and Walter Perkins. Her first American full-length album, Feelin' Good, released in 1990, won a Handy Award for best acoustic album.
Disques Vogue was a jazz record company founded in France by Léon Cabat and Charles Delaunay in 1947, the year after the American Vogue label ceased.
Tav Falco's Panther Burns, sometimes shortened to (The) Panther Burns, is a rock band originally from Memphis, Tennessee, United States, led by Tav Falco. They are best known for having been part of a set of bands emerging in the late 1970s and early 1980s who helped nationally popularize the blending of blues, country, and other American traditional music styles with rock music among groups playing in alternative music and punk music venues of the time. The earliest and most renowned of these groups to imbue these styles with expressionist theatricality and primitive spontaneity were The Cramps, largely influenced by rockabilly music. Forming just after them in 1979, Panther Burns drew on obscure country blues music, Antonin Artaud's works like The Theater and Its Double, beat poetry, and Marshall McLuhan's media theories for their early inspiration. Alongside groups like The Cramps and The Gun Club, Panther Burns ranked among the contributing influences and progenitors of the Southern Gothic-tinged roots music revival scene that arose during the last two decades of the 20th century and continued into the early 2000s.
Othar "Otha" Turner was one of the last well-known fife players in the vanishing American fife and drum blues tradition. His music was also part of the African-American genre known as Hill country blues.
In 1993 Hemphill had a stroke, which paralyzed her left side, preventing her from playing guitar; she retired from her blues career.She continued to play by accompanying her band on the tambourine.
In 2004, the Jessie Mae Hemphill Foundation released Dare You to Do It Again, a double album and DVD of gospel standards, newly recorded by the ailing vocalist, singing and playing tambourine with accompaniment from Steve Gardner, DJ Logic, and descendants of the late musicians Junior Kimbrough, R. L. Burnside, and Otha Turner. They were her first recordings since her stroke in 1993.Also in 2004, Inside Sounds released Get Right Blues, containing material recorded from 1979 through the early 1980s, and Black & Blue released Mississippi Blues Festival, which includes seven live tracks by her from a Paris concert in 1986.
Gospel music is a genre of Christian music. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Gospel music is composed and performed for many purposes, including aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, and as an entertainment product for the marketplace. Gospel music usually has dominant vocals with Christian lyrics. Gospel music can be traced to the early 17th century, with roots in the black oral tradition. Hymns and sacred songs were often repeated in a call and response fashion. Most of the churches relied on hand clapping and foot stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Most of the singing was done a cappella. The first published use of the term "gospel song" probably appeared in 1874. The original gospel songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. Gospel music publishing houses emerged. The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music. Following World War II, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate.
DJ Logic is an American turntablist active primarily in nu-jazz/acid jazz and with jam bands.
David "Junior" Kimbrough was an American blues musician. His best-known works are "Keep Your Hands off Her" and "All Night Long".
Hemphill died on July 22, 2006, at the Regional Medical Center in Memphis, after complications from an ulcer.
As one of the earliest successful female blues musicians[ citation needed ], Hemphill was an influential and pioneering artist. Her songs have been performed by indie musician Chan Marshall. Marshall performed Hemphill's song "Lord, Help the Poor and Needy" on her album Jukebox without credit, to much controversy.
In 2003, Hemphill's protégé and collaborator, Olga Wilhelmine Munding, established the Jessie Mae Hemphill Foundation to preserve and archive the African-American music of northern Mississippi and to provide assistance for regional musicians in need who could not survive on meager publishing royalties.
One of Hemphill's songs was featured in the dance Tales from the Creek, by Reggie Wilson's Fist and Heel Performance Group, in a series of events celebrating black culture in Union Square Park, Manhattan in 1998.
Robert Leroy Johnson was an American blues singer, songwriter and musician. His landmark recordings in 1936 and 1937 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that has influenced later generations of musicians. Johnson's poorly documented life and death have given rise to much legend. The one most closely associated with his life is that he sold his soul to the devil at a local crossroads to achieve musical success. He is now recognized as a master of the blues, particularly as a progenitor of the Delta blues style.
McKinley Morganfield, known professionally as Muddy Waters, was an American blues singer-songwriter and musician who is often cited as the "father of modern Chicago blues", and an important figure on the post-war blues scene. His style of playing has been described as "raining down Delta beatitude".
Chester Arthur Burnett, known as Howlin' Wolf, was a Chicago blues singer, guitarist, and harmonica player, originally from Mississippi. With a booming voice and imposing physical presence, he is one of the best-known Chicago blues artists. The musician and critic Cub Koda noted, "no one could match Howlin' Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits." Producer Sam Phillips recalled, "When I heard Howlin' Wolf, I said, 'This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.'" Several of his songs, including "Smokestack Lightnin'", "Killing Floor" and "Spoonful", have become blues and blues rock standards. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 54 on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time".
Delta blues is one of the earliest-known styles of blues music. It originated in the Mississippi Delta, a region of the U.S. stretching from Memphis, Tennessee, in the north to Vicksburg, Mississippi, in the south and from Helena, Arkansas, in the west to the Yazoo River in the east. The Mississippi Delta is famous for its fertile soil and for its poverty. Delta blues is regarded as a regional variant of country blues. Guitar and harmonica are its dominant instruments; slide guitar is a hallmark of the style. Vocal styles in Delta blues range from introspective and soulful to passionate and fiery.
R. L. Burnside was an American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He played music for much of his life but received little recognition before the early 1990s. In the latter half of that decade, Burnside recorded and toured with Jon Spencer, garnering crossover appeal and introducing his music to a new fan base in the punk and garage rock scenes.
The Memphis Jug Band was an American musical group active from the mid-1920s to the late 1950s. The band featured harmonica, kazoo, fiddle and mandolin or banjolin, backed by guitar, piano, washboard, washtub bass and jug. They played slow blues, pop songs, humorous songs and upbeat dance numbers with jazz and string band flavors. The band made the first commercial recordings in Memphis, Tennessee, and recorded more sides than any other prewar jug band.
Fife and drum blues is an American folk music form derived from country blues, martial music tradition, and African rhythms. It is performed typically with one lead fife player and a troop of drummers. Unlike a drum corps, the drum troop is loosely structured. As such, a fife and drum band may have a variable number of snare, tom, and bass drum players. A large military-style bass drum is preferred. Fife and drum performances are often family affairs held at reunions, summer community picnics, and on holidays.
Deep Blues: A Musical Pilgrimage to the Crossroads is a British documentary film, released in 1991, and made by music critic and author Robert Palmer and documentary film maker Robert Mugge, in collaboration with David A. Stewart and his brother John J. Stewart. The film provided insight into the location, cast and characteristics of Delta blues and North Mississippi hill country blues. Filming took place in 1990 in Memphis, Tennessee, and various North Mississippi counties. Theatrical release was in 1991 and home video release in the United Kingdom, the next year, as was a soundtrack album. A United States consumer edition came in 2000.
Rosa Lee Hill was an American blues musician. She was born Rosa Lee Beeland in Como, Mississippi, United States.
High Water Recording Company is a blues record label founded in 1979 by David Evans and Memphis State University.
Olga Wilhelmine Munding is an American New Orleans-based blues musician, producer and actress.
Cedric O. Burnside is an American electric blues drummer, guitarist, singer and songwriter. He is the son of blues drummer Calvin Jackson and grandson of blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist R. L. Burnside.
Calvin Jackson was an American drummer from north Mississippi. He is considered an innovator in the Hill country blues style of drumming, having incorporated elements of the regional Fife and drum bands style in the blues band setting.
Delta Moon is an American swamp blues, blues rock, and blues band. They originated in Inman Park, Atlanta, Georgia, United States. The group's name came to founder member, Mark Johnson, whilst on a pilgrimage to Muddy Waters' cabin near Clarksdale, Mississippi. In 2003, Delta Moon won the International Blues Challenge. They have released a number of albums on various record labels, including Low Down, which Down Beat magazine named in their "best albums of 2015".
Sid Hemphill was an American blues multi-instrumentalist and bandleader who played in his own string band mainly in Mississippi. He recorded for Alan Lomax in 1942 and again in 1959.
R. L. Boyce is a Grammy nominated American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist born and raised in Como, Mississippi, United States.
Jessie Mae Hemphill has lived and performed in the Delta for most of her life, and she is an important and well-known ... Hemphill plays the diddley bow on her She Wolf album, in the song 'Take Me Home and Put Me in Your Big Brass Bed'.
O Jessie Mae Hemphill, She-Wolf (HighTone). A 1980 album, on which Hemphill often plays guitar and percussion simultaneously, that gives a good idea of her moody blues, featuring spare guitar figures and tinkling percussion."
Born in Senatobia, Mississippi, Jessie Mae Hemphill, a singer and guitarist, is a self-taught musician who incorporates ... Hemphill released her 1981 debut album, She-Wolf, on Vogue records in Europe, but it wasn't until 1987 that she ...