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Collection Title: Blind Roosevelt Graves and Brother

Press Release:

October 18, 1996

Have you ever wondered why a local radio station signs on by saying, "Coming to you from Hattiesburg, the birth place of rock and roll. Look it up."? One reason may be that in the book The Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, published by Rolling Stone magazine, two songs recorded in Hattiesburg in 1936 by native Mississippi musicians are identified as possibly the earliest rock and roll recordings.

The two songs are "Barbecue Bust" and "Dangerous Woman." They were recorded in Hattiesburg in 1936 by the Mississippi Jook Band, consisting of the legendary Blind Roosevelt Graves singing vocals and playing guitar and his brother Uaroy Graves on tambourine and kazoo. They were joined for the recording session by one of Mississippi's most influential musicians, Cooney Vaughn, who played piano.

According to the Rolling Stone history, "The Graves brothers of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, who recorded 'rocking and reeling' spirituals for Paramount in 1929, made several blues records as the Mississippi Jook Band in 1936. Their 'Barbecue Bust' and 'Dangerous Woman' featured fully formed rock & roll guitar riffs and a stomping rock & roll beat."

Roosevelt Graves was born in Rose Hill near Meridian. After World War II, Graves moved to Gulfport, where he is said to have died in 1960. Piano player Cooney Vaughn performed weekly on radio station WCOC in Meridian prior to World War II.

In 1936 Paramount Records talent scout and Jackson furniture store owner H.C. Speir located the Graves Brothers, whom he had recorded in Indiana in 1929, performing in a church in McComb and arranged for them to do a second recording session in Hattiesburg.

To play piano in the Hattiesburg session, Speir chose Cooney Vaughn, described by Ed Komara, archivist in the Blues Archives at the University of Mississippi, as an influential live performer in Hattiesburg, where musicians from the Delta and New Orleans on their way by train to a gig would stop over in The Hub City to hear Vaughn play.

The combination of Vaughn's uninhibited piano style with the religious feeling and musical versatility of the Graves Brothers resulted in a the beginnings of a new type of music -- rock and roll.

The USM Archives has recently acquired a re-release on cd of the complete recorded works of Blind Roosevelt Graves, including "Barbecue Bust," "Dangerous Woman," and 19 others. The cd was produced by Document Records, an Austrian company engaged in documenting the history of American blues, gospel, bluegrass, and ragtime music.

The Document cd includes songs from both of the Graves Brothers' 1929 and 1936 recording sessions and enables the listener to experience again the music of a black country band in the jook joints of Mississippi during the twenties and thirties.

Accession Number: AM 96-6

Inclusive Dates: 1929-1936

Volume: 1 item

Given By : Acquired by purchase.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Form of Material:

Compact disk featuring the complete recorded works of Mississippi musicians Blind Roosevelt Graves and his brother Uaroy Graves.

Accession Number: AM 97-59

Inclusive Dates: 1995

Volume: 1 item

Given By : Donated by Dr. Ed Wheat.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Form of Material:

Copy of the book Mississippi Studies: Emergence of Modern Mississippi (Brandon, Miss.: Magnolia Publishing Company, 1995), autographed by contributing author Dr. Joseph B. Parker. Information about the Graves Brothers is found on pages 345-346. A copy of the book is also available in the Cook Library, call number TEXT BK Soc.St. Mississi Gr.7-12 Magnoli.

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