I’ve noticed something in my 21 years of life. Mississippi has a reputation that will never be anything more than a racist bubble of festering bigotry.
You read that right.
“The South Will Rise Again” is one of the first things that seems to come to mind when people think about the state that is first for every bad list and last for every good list. I’m here to say that this sentiment is bull shit. (Sorry for the expletives.)
As soon as I mention, “I’m from Mississippi,” people form their own perception of me. She must be country; she lives on a farm; etc. Actually, I live next to a farm. I do enjoy country music from time to time. My grandfather used to be a bonafide cowboy.
Anywho. my main point is not to rant about the stereotypes I have encountered. I’m talking about music, yeah. Artists that influence me range from blues to indie to reggae, pretty much anything. Some of my favorite “Hill Country” Mississippi blues artists, though, follow:
- R.L. Burnside; this man is boss. I don’t care who you are or where you come from. You can’t help but bob your head to his simple rhythms that carry so much weight. He has a personality that can’t be denied when he sings (and mumbles in between verses). In fact, the inside flap for “A Bothered Mind” includes a picture of him peeing. Ha ha. I think it’s funny.
- Junior Kimbrough; this guy was raunchy. No really. Just listen to his live recordings in juke joints around northern Mississippi. His instrumentals are some of my favorites. More modern artists have tried to do him justice, but I wasn’t impressed until I heard “Chulahoma.” The Black Keys do an incredible job of harnessing Junior’s intensity and charisma. The last track on the short album is actually a recording of Junior’s wife, who expresses her gratitude to Dan and Patrick for commemorating her late husband in an authentic way.
I’ve only mentioned a couple of artists, but they are genuinely my favorite. It doesn’t matter how I’m feeling emotionally. These two artists have the ability to make me laugh, sing, tap my nails on the steering wheel, dance around my kitchen and suggest songs to friends.
Mississippi is better than what everyone assumes. I love my state and I’m proud to say I grew up as a “country” girl.