The origins of Blues music is a complex weave of traditions, and the genre echoes suffering and endurance through centuries of hardship. Evolving from blended musical forms brought to the United States by enslaved Africans, then taking on the rhythm of work in the fields and heart of spirituals, the oppressive environment of the Jim Crow South ultimately shaped the Blues as we know it today.
Today, the Blues are more often romanticized as the ballads of down and out troubadours, rambling and poor, but following their passion for music. Blues legend Robert Johnson’s story epitomizes these hard realities and an enduring mythology that surrounds his memory. Legend has it that Johnson signed a deal with the devil to perfect his guitar playing. And like so many legends, mystery shrouds the actual person and what really happened in his 27 years on earth, how he died and where he is buried. Until 2002, nobody knew for certain where the King of the Delta Blues Singers was laid to rest.
Report for America corps member Alexandra Watts takes us on a journey to Robert Johnson’s final resting place in the Mississippi Delta.
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