Memphis is the cradle of so many American music genres from rock ‘n’ roll to soul to blues. There is an irresistible soul that has drawn people here for more than a century. The city is a history…
At the end of my last tour of Memphis’ Sun Studio, a Belgian visitor took his head in his hands, bore a bewildered gaze at our guide and asked, “Why was there so much talent here?” It was as though he couldn’t contain the notion that any one region could give rise to so many stars.
I’ve directed the same question to Al Bell, Delta native-cum-music legend. He believes it’s the melting pot – that coming-together of cultures that is the Mississippi Delta. There’s a human rights story in that, of slaves and of sharecroppers; of people who had little but dreamed big.
From despair came the blues. From the fields grew gospel. From rogues and unlikely collaborators came rock-and-roll and soul. And it all comes from the Delta.
Designated trails like Bridging the Blues and the Mississippi Blues Trail will link you to the roots of these truly American art forms in fields, shacks and impossibly small studios. They further lead to festivals and venues that evidence a new generation of American roots musicians, striving to help us all remember where the music came from.