“The first time I met the blues
The Address: 229 Highway 8, Cleveland, Mississippi.
The Story: It’s called Dockery Farms.
“Farms” is a rebrand.
It was a back-breaking plantation in a small town in Mississippi. It’s walking distance from where Fannie Lou Hamer picked cotton. It’s a stone’s throw from “the crossroads,” where a young Robert Johnson was rumored to have sold his soul for an unearthly cool.
There, as the sun kissed the dusty sky goodbye, guitars played, feet stomped, and hips swayed. The long days of work were made magic by the masters of a new American art form called the Blues.
Just one generation after Dockery Farms, hundreds of blues men and women amplified the stories of our people and became the soundtrack of struggle. That real pain was carried in the Great Migration to the blighted streets of the industrial north.
Today, let’s shine a light on the founders of the Blues. Many of them met on this very plantation: Charley Patton, Howlin’ Wolf, and even “Pops” Staples of The Staple Singers worked there.
But this is Black history, and it didn’t just start on this farm. The truth is that the Blues was born in the hearts of the people of Africa. The Blues is their story and rhythms as they were brought to Mississippi. The Blues was therapy for their children on Beale Street in Memphis, and it brought laughter and reprieve to the hike joints of Kansas City, St. Louis, and Chicago. The Blues brought truth to the world.
This episode will be electrifying as we walk and talk about the function of Blues music for Black people.