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Blues Legends

Can the Blues Rescue the Mississippi Delta? Part 3

Debra Devi | Posted 05.26.2013 | Arts
Debra Devi

On my Mississippi Delta book tour for The Language of the Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu I met people working together to develop a blues tourism industry with the potential to economically rescue the Delta -- the poorest region in our nation.

Can the Blues Rescue the Mississippi Delta? Part 2

Debra Devi | Posted 05.19.2013 | Arts
Debra Devi

"They say that so-called twelve-bar stuff is the black man's blues and country western of that day was the white man's blues, but there's a very thin line between the two musics. Only difference is the beat, and the bars to some extent, but the stories of happiness, sadness, being lonesome. All that was the same."

Can the Blues Rescue the Mississippi Delta? Part 1

Debra Devi | Posted 05.11.2013 | Arts
Debra Devi

If you haven't paid a visit to the Mississippi Delta yet, plan one now to this starkly beautiful, richly musical place. You'll thank me as you roll down 61, with cotton fields fanning out on either side under an impossibly wide blue sky.

Robert Johnson and the Myth of the Illiterate Bluesman

Debra Devi | Posted 08.28.2012 | Home
Debra Devi

How often have you heard that old saw about Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at midnight on a Delta crossroads? It all started because of Johnson's uncanny mastery of the guitar.

Possessed: Voodoo's Origins and Influence from the Blues to Britney

Debra Devi | Posted 05.16.2012 | Home
Debra Devi

This was the religion of many slaves brought from West Africa to the Americas and the Caribbean. Vodun was brutally repressed by slave-owners, yet its powerful beats, ethics and aesthetics endured. We owe our concepts of cool, soul and rock and roll to it.

Bessie Smith: Music's Original, Bitchinest Bad Girl

Debra Devi | Posted 04.25.2012 | Arts
Debra Devi

What hugely popular female singer beat a rival unconscious, slept with her musical director, seduced her female backup dancers, frequented live sex shows and mortified New York society by telling a wealthy fan to "get the f*ck away from me"? 1920s blues singer Bessie Smith.

The Real Story Behind Howlin' Wolf's 'Killing Floor'

Debra Devi | Posted 06.03.2012 | Home
Debra Devi

"Wolf had seven wives. One was named Helen. She shot him with a double barrel shotgun with buckshot. Out the second floor window. This woman, oh man, he wrote that song about her!"

Dirty Words and Gender Switching in the Blues

Debra Devi | Posted 05.22.2012 | Arts
Debra Devi

Africans may have arrived here with nothing, but they enriched and vitalized American language and culture beyond measure. Africans in the Americas became masters of metaphor and euphemism.