Blues Heroes | Howlin’ Wolf

Howlin Wolf

“A lot of peoples holler about ‘I don’t like no blues,’ but when you ain’t got no money, and can’t pay your house rent and can’t buy you no food, you damn sure got the blues. If you ain’t got no money you got the blues, because you’re thinking evil. That’s right. Any time you’re thinking evil, you’re thinking about the blues.” – Howlin’ Wolf

Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976) was named after the 21st president. His eventual size – he was purportedly 6’3” and 300 lbs (191 cm and 136 kg) – would result in nicknames like Big Foot Chester & Bull Cow but they had already started calling him “Wolf” by the age of 3.

“My grandfather gave me that name. He used to sit down and tell me tall stories about what the wolf would do. Because I was a bad boy, you know, always in devilment. I’d say ‘Well, what do the wolf do?’ He’d say ‘Howl.’ You know, to scare me, you know, and I’d get mad about this. I didn’t know it would be a great name.”

Born in Mississippi, the list of Delta musicians that helped Wolf on his journey to becoming one of the most recognizable Chicago blues artists is a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of Blues: Continue reading

Ray Charles | Hard Life & Success of a Blues Genius

12 Days of Blues-Mas 2017 | Episode #11

Written by Brooke Filsinger

Ray Charles by Greg JoensKnown as “The Genius” the world over, he was simply “Brother Ray” to friends and fellow musicians.

He was a musical pioneer in every sense.

It would be impossible to classify him in a single genre. He was on the cutting edge of the development of soul music in the 1950s and integral to the integration of country with other styles during the 1960s. In an effort to have his listener ‘feel’ his message, he filled his recordings with slurs, glides, shrieks, wails, breaks, shouts, hollers and more.

In addition to being one of the first African-American musicians to be granted artistic control which allowed him the freedom to crossover into mainstream pop, he was also offered a large annual advance, higher than usual royalties, and the almost unheard of ownership of his masters.

But despite his ingenuity, he wasn’t immune to the changing times – he experienced ebbs and flows as popular tastes changed, although he never stopped re-inventing what his music could be.

Frank Sinatra believed that he was “The only true genius in show business”.

We knew him simply as Ray Charles . . . but there was nothing simple about Ray Charles or his music.

Listen to All songs in this article:

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Mavis Staples | A Ray of Light

12 Days of Blues-Mas 2017 | Episode #3

Written by Brooke Filsinger

Mavis Staples happy music

“I respected and loved Aretha Franklin, and still do. But she wasn’t Mavis Staples.”

That’s a pretty bold statement. And when it comes from Al Bell, co-owner of the famous Stax Records, it’s also a statement that can’t just be dismissed lightly.

So who is this ‘Mavis’ that so commands Bell’s respect?

She has worn many labels — gospel singer, civil rights activist, self-funded artist, Bob Dylan’s ‘lost love’ — but she will no doubt be remembered as the breath-taking centre-piece of The Staple Singers, one of America’s greatest family bands, and one of the greatest voices of the 20th century.

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