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       History of the blues

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Author Myrlie Evers-Williams is a trailblazer as an activist for civil rights

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CNN NEWSROOM: History of the blues

Members of the Delta Blues Education Program teach a young musician how to play the blues.  

February 14, 2001
Web posted at: 11:10 AM EST (1610 GMT)


(CNN NEWSROOM) -- The blues is much more than a style of music.

Throughout its history, the blues has provided a unique view into the African-American experience. Blues musicians have used the music to communicate truth about the hardships of life -- hardships such as poverty, racism or loss of a loved one. It also provides a little escapism for people in desperate need of some fun.

The blues is a birthright of the Mississippi Delta. The genre evolved from slave "hollers" and field songs into foot-stomping and sultry music made popular by legendary artists such as Muddy Waters, Bessie Smith and B.B. King.

The soul of the blues has been passed from generation to generation. And one blues musician living in the Delta is trying to keep the roots of the music alive in the place where it originated. Johnnie Billington gathers young people together several times a week in his music studio in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The goal is to teach a generation of kids raised on MTV about the history of a style of music they consider "old- fashioned." It hasn't been easy, but Billington has managed to get many of the kids in his classes to reclaim their Delta heritage.

CNN's Shelley Walcott reports on a Southern blues icon, Johnnie Billington

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CNN's Shelley Walcott reports on the Delta and its influence on the blues

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Delta Blues Education Program
Blues Tour
Delta Blues Museum Online

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