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~ In Loving Memory ~
Jessie Mae Hemphill 1923-2006


Jessie Mae Hemphill photo by Dr. David Evans
July 24, 2006


Legendary Mississippi hill country blues musician Jessie Mae Hemphill passed away on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at the Regional Medical Center in Memphis, Tennessee.  She was 83 years old. 

Jessie Mae Hemphill's huge spirit, devoted friendship and sublime musical legacy meant the world to me and thousands of other blues and roots music lovers.  Her seminal recordings, released in the late 1980's and the dawn of the 1990's (now reissued on CD), Feelin' Good, and She Wolf (and more recent releases), attest to her deep-groove, totally unique original style and fresh voice as a singer, songwriter and guitarist.

Her music was firmly rooted in the hypnotic style of her family and neighborhood, directly linked to the music of her grandfather, fife-and-drum and fiddle master Sid Hemphill, her aunt, singer Rosa Lee Hill, Mississippi Fred MacDowell, R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and Othar Turner, and has been a huge inspiration to the music of the North Mississippi All-Stars, Richard Johnston, myself, and many, many others.

She had won five richly deserved W.C. Handy Blues Awards and toured the world extensively before a stroke abruptly ended her music career in 1993.  Jessie Mae Hemphill lived in her native town of Senatobia, Mississippi, and was the only remaining original link to the riveting, rhythmic "Mississippi Hill Country" blues style.

She will be deeply and truly missed.  Her soulful, musical spirit will remain in our hearts forever.


Love,   Catfish Keith & Penny Cahill

Baby Please Don't Go
A Remembrance of Jessie Mae Hemphill by Catfish Keith

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