The Delta is a major source of American popular culture, and Quitman County has strong ties with the Mississippi Blues Trail and the Mississippi Country Music Trail.
Country Music Legend
Born in Sledge, Mississippi on March 18, 1938, Charley Pride is an American country music singer, musician-guitarist, recording artist, performer, business owner an author. Pride is one of the few African-American country musicians to have had considerable success in the country music industry and only the second African American to be inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Impact of The Blues
Marks, the county seat of Quitman County and located in the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, has deep ties to the historical cultural Blues Trail.The Blues and Gospel were born in the Delta, and spread with the migrating population to Chicago, New York, Detroit, Memphis, Los Angeles, and internationally over the airways to London and Tokyo. Listed below are legendary Blues performers born in Quitman County. Several played with, and influenced the music style of Sonny Boy Williams II, T. Bone Walker, and Robert Nighthawk. These artists are grouped with some of Blues Greats throughout the Delta region such as, Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Wade Walton, Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters.
John Lee Hooker
(1917 – 2001)
John Lee Hooker grew up in the Vance and Lambert areas before eventually settling in Detroit. There he made his first recordings, and in 1949 his single “Boogie Chillen” reached #1 on the R&B charts. By 1970, John Lee had moved to California and begun working with rock musicians, notably Van Morrison and Canned Heat, with whom he collaborated on several albums and tours. Hooker continued to tour the U.S. and Europe throughout the 70s and 80s, but it was the release in 1989 of his album, The Healer, that catapulted him back to million-seller status and began what was the most successful period of his career.
(1929 – 1970)
While he lived only 41 years, Earl Hooker gained fame for his slide guitar technique, heard most frequently accompanying Sonny Boy Williamson, Junior Wells, and John Lee Hooker. Expanding on the urban styles of T-Bone Walker and Robert Nighthawk, Earl Hooker was one of the pioneers of the electric guitar.
James Edward “Snooky” Pryor
(1921 – 2006)
Born in Lambert in 1929, Snooky Pryor was a legendary harmonica player who pioneered the “amplified harmonica” style using a small palm microphone. He taught the method to young students at Clarksdale’s Delta Blues Museum and at the Blues Academy in Lambert. Pryor’s son Richard “Rip Lee” Pryor is also a blues musician, and performs in and around his residential city of Carbondale, Illinois.
(1935 – 2013)
Known around his hometown of Crowder and across the Delta as “Mr. Johnny”, Billington shared his skills with admiring students for more than twenty years at the Delta Blues Museum and the Blues Academy in his adopted town of Lambert. Learn more about Johnny Billington at Mississippi Folk Life and Folk Artist Directory.
Albert “Sunnyland Slim” Luandrew
(1906 – 1995)
Born on a farm near Vance, Sunnyland Slim played blues piano until his death in 1995. He performed with many of the genre’s legends in the Memphis Beale Street area after moving there in 1925. In 1988 Sunnyland Slim was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship.