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The Blues
The Blues

The Blues

The Authentic Narrative of My Music and Culture


384 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Cloth, EPUB, PDF, Mobipocket

Cloth, $30.00 (US $30.00) (CA $40.00)

Publication Date: June 2021

ISBN 9781641604444

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (Jun 2021)


eBook Editions Available

Will it work on my eReader?
Not Yet Published. Estimated release date: June 2021


An untold authentic counter-narrative blues history and the first written by an African American blues artist

All prior histories on the blues have alleged it originated on plantations in the Mississippi Delta. Not true, says author Chris Thomas King. In The Blues, King present facts to disprove such myths. For example, that as early as 1900, the sound of the blues was ubiquitous in New Orleans. The Mississippi Delta, meanwhile, was an unpopulated sportsman's paradise—the frontier was still in the process of being cleared and drained for cultivation. Moreover, this book is the first to argue the blues began as a cosmopolitan art form, not a rural one. Protestant states such as Mississippi and Alabama could not have incubated the blues. New Orleans was the only place in the Deep South where the sacred and profane could party together without fear of persecution. Expecting these findings to be controversial in some circles, King has buttressed his conclusions with primary sources and years of extensive research, including a sojourn to West Africa and interviews with surviving folklorists and blues researchers from the 1960s folk-rediscovery epoch. They say the blues is blasphemous; the devil's music—King says they're unenlightened. Blues music is about personal freedom.


"During his 32-year recording career, King has often pushed boundaries." —The Advocate    

"When the Coen brothers chose Chris Thomas King to play real-life Delta bluesman Tommy Johnson in their film O Brother, Where Art Thou? they weren't exactly going out on a limb. Long before the plum acting role came along, King was singing and playing Southern blues while recording for a variety of labels, so it wasn't surprising to find him slipping comfortably into Johnson's shoes." —Washington Post  

Author Biography

Chris Thomas King, born into the blues in 1962, was discovered in Louisiana in 1979 by a folklorist from the Smithsonian Institute and introduced to the world by folk label Arhoolie Records as an authentic folk-blues successor to Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and Jelly Roll Morton. King played the itinerant bluesman Tommy Johnson in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou, and he has earned numerous awards, including an Album of the Year Grammy and an Album of the Year Country Music (CMA) Award. King has inspired a new generation of musicians such as Hozier, Mumford & Sons, and Gary Clark Jr., and his songs "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues" and "John Law Burned Down the Liquor Sto'," among others, have been covered by many artists including blues legend Buddy Guy.