the River of Song project and more...
Southern FusionAmericas Old & NewMidwestern CrossroadsSouthern FusionLouisiana, Where Music is King
Boundless Love Quartet
Sonny Burgess
Memphis community music
Rufus Thomas
Memphis Horns
Rober Lockwood, Jr.
Levon Helm
Jack Johnson
Johnnie Billington
Little Milton
Mississippi Mass Chois

Smithsonian Institution

       The river flows into the deep South, heartland of the blues and breeding ground for rock 'n' roll and soul music. This is farm and plantation country, and Memphis, the regional metropolis, is far less distinct from its rural surroundings than Minneapolis, St. Louis, or New Orleans. Its population retains strong country roots, and its musical history has been made by all the folks from the surrounding fields who came into the city to record and sell their music, just as the cotton plantation owners came in to sell their bales to the national brokers.
       The plantations, built by African slaves and later worked by African-American sharecroppers, created a population in which blacks were the majority and, while their political power was brutally curtailed, they were a dominant influence on music. All the musicians to come out of this area, whatever their race, have been deeply affected by black traditions. Despite segregation, black and white musicians have traded tunes and played together for generations, from the days when Mississippi John Hurt was working at dances with the white fiddler W. T. Narmour to the Stax studio scene that produced the Memphis Horns. The mixing was not easy, but it made for a unique musical world that could produce a white r&b singer like Elvis Presley and a black country star like Charley Pride.

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