What is: Sharecroppers home, hot tin roof at the edge of the Stovall Plantation
What was: The Stovall Plantation is about 6 miles northwest of Clarksdale. It’s 4000 acres of cotton and soybeans and been in the family since 1836. Clarksdale made the blues and sent the music north; it was the starting point of the Great Migration during which 5 million blacks left the South from 1940 to the mid-’60s, each heading for a new life in the North.
McKinley Morganfield moved there when his mother died in 1915. He was just 3 years old, and he came to be raised by his grandmother in her sharecropper’s shack on the plantation. He picked up a nickname, Muddy Waters, and started fooling around with music in his early teens, first the harmonica, then guitar. He played all around town, at suppers and get-togethers; he played on the front porch of the shack, on Saturday nights turning the place into his own juke joint, complete with homemade whiskey.
It took years, but he built a reputation, and it brought him recognition before he was 30. In 1940, Alan Lomax, the folklore collector at the Library of Congress, traveled to the Delta to record the music of Robert Johnson, the undisputed wild man of blues music. Trouble was, Johnson had been dead for nearly three years, poisoned by strychnine-laced whiskey one hot Saturday night at a roadhouse in Three Forks. Legend has it he had been fooling around with the roadhouse owner’s wife, and that was that. Or maybe he was stabbed; after more than 50 years, details remain sketchy.
So Lomax discovered he’d missed Johnson, but he heard about this guy named Muddy Waters at the Stovall Plantation. Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/travel/1993/07/04/where-the-blues-were-born/8efc1c14-e178-45df-b79b-3e15ba8ea3f6/).
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