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Strange Maps

222 – Birthplaces of Mississippi Blues Artists

deltabirths.gifMississippi is the poorest of all states, but fortunately also has a happier distinction: it’s the place where most of the quintessentially American music genres originated, from blues and jazz to rock ‘n roll.An amazing accomplishment for a state that has under three million inhabitants, but it’s wirth noting that most of the musical history of these genres was written by Mississippians outside of their native state. This is due to the Great Migration following the railroads north to Chicago, an exodus that continued throughout the first half of the 20th century.This mainly black exodus was caused as much by plummeting cotton prices as by the contiuned disenfranchisement of former slaves. It resulted in Chicago‘s status as the capital of jazzs and blues muesic (and Detroit as a major centre for soul).This blues map gives an idea where many of the blues greats originated – as well as which instrments they played, and if and when they migrated north. There is an interesting concentration of talent originating in and around Jackson, the state’s capital, but Clarksdale is also an important centre. It’s probably no coincidence that Clarksdale is the location of the Delta Blues Muesum – and, allegedly, of the crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his musical talent.A complete listing of the artists referenced in this map (and of course the map itself, which was designed by David Michael Miller) can be found here on Miller’s website Front Page Graphics. The site also has another map on the history of African-American music: Jazz and R’nB Landmarks of Downtown New Orleans.



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