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
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
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
, 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
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