Thursday, February 23, 2012

On Display in the Library Atrium

Celebrating Black History Month

This exhibit honors the legacy of John Smith Hurt of Carroll County, Mississippi. It tells the story of Hurt’s brief musical career in the 1920s, his rediscovery by Tom Hoskins in 1963, and his influence on musicians during the folk revival of the 1960's.

The exhibit was designed by the Arts Center of Cannon County with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Many of the items depicted are on deposit in the collections of the MTSU Center for Popular Music. It is a companion to the 2011 release of the original recordings made by Tom Hoskins in Hurt’s home nearly 50 years ago. The audio CD, Discovery: the rebirth of Mississippi John Hurt, was issued by Spring Fed Records, record label of the Arts Center of Cannon County.

John Smith Hurt, better known as Mississippi John Hurt(1893-1966) was an American country blues singer and guitarist. Raised in Avalon, Mississippi, Hurt taught himself how to play the guitar around age nine. Singing in a loud whisper, to a melodious finger-picked accompaniment, he began to play local dances and parties while working as a sharecropper. He first recorded for Okeh Records in 1928, but soon drifted out of the recording scene. He continued his work as a farmer. After a man discovered a copy of one of his recordings, "Avalon Blues",

Tom Hoskins, a blues enthusiast, would be the first to locate Hurt in 1963. He convinced Hurt to relocate to Washington, D.C., where he was recorded by the Library of Congress in 1964. This rediscovery helped further the American folk music revival, which had led to the rediscovery of many other bluesmen of Hurt's era. Hurt entered the same university and coffeehouse concert circuit as his contemporaries, as well as other Delta blues musicians brought out of retirement. As well as playing concerts, he recorded several studio albums for Vanguard Records.

Come by and see this beautiful exhibit in the Walker Library atrium.

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