Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival
07/27/15: ‘Women in Blues’ brings international flair to Sunflower

‘Women in Blues’ brings international flair to Sunflower


Community panels continue as festival favorites

 

CLARKSDALE – Ask festival fans to name their favorite feature of Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival, and the acoustic stage may edge out educational panels but only by a hair.

 

The music, commentary, and philosophy of Arthniece Jones playing with Big T Williams on the acoustic stage still draw visitors from far and wide despite the harmonica master’s passing several years ago.

 

Hard to beat, however, would be “Remembering Big Jack Johnson” in 2014 with his family, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, best friends, and band members, drawing straws to tell great stories.

 

Tales of another icon - Melville Tillis - ranged from family to athletics, ties with energy czars across the U.S., and music history from Rabbit Foot minstrels to Little Milton, Ike Turner, and Bobby Rush hanging out at his River Mount Lounge.


No one will forget Charlie Musselwhite talking about his growing up days in Mississippi, Memphis, and driving an exterminator truck in Chicago to locate all the great blues clubs.

 

No one will forget Charlie Musselwhite talking about his growing up days in Mississippi, Memphis, and driving an exterminator truck in Chicago to locate all the great blues clubs.

 

Talented vocalist Myra Turner, soloist at Chapel Hill Baptist Church sang a tribute to her cousin, Ike Turner, as the finale to the “Remembering Ike” panel. Earlier his daughter and second wife from Yazoo City spoke and identified herself as “Number Two.”

 

This year, the 2015 festival is bringing international flavor into its educational feature with a unique program titled “Women in Blues.”

 

Twelve years ago Norwegian divas Rita Engedalen and Margit Bakken began honoring their female blues idols in concerts together on stage. In 2012 they released their first album, “Broken Soul Blues.”

 

“We are dedicated to spreading the words and music written and performed by many strong blues-singing ladies; many never had the freedom and opportunity to do so themselves,” says Engedalen.

 

In a personal, semi-acoustic concert, the two play a selection of their own written material, together with both new and well known music from strong personalities of blues, folk, soul, gospel, and hill country blues.

 

Some of the singers they honor include Janis Joplin, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Memphis Minnie, Ida Cox, Big Mama Thornton, Bessie Smith, Elizabeth Cotton and Kristin Berglund.

 

Both Engedalen and Bakken began performing on stage by the age of eight and have continued active careers as singers and songwriters.

 

A Grammy Award winner, Engedalen has visited Clarksdale several times, has written songs about her trips here, and has recorded gospel selections with Myra Turner and members of the Coahoma Community College Choir. She will be performing on the Main Stage at 7 p.m. Saturday night.

 

At 11:15 a.m. “Women in Blues” is part of Saturday morning’s free acoustic stage beneath the VIP Tent. Bakken will be visiting the U.S. for the first time.


Picture of Margit Bakken (left) and Rita Engedalen (right)

Margit Bakken (left) and Rita Engedalen





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