Dorothy Moore draws international fans

Sunflower River Blues Festival interview with Dorothy Moore, 7/17/2011, Publicist Panny Mayfield,

‘Misty Blue’ celebrity makes debut at the Sunflower Fest       JACKSON – A BBC producer in England is listening to Dorothy Moore’s quintessential torch song, “Misty Blue” before her trip to Clarksdale’s Sunflower River Blues Festival

“I can’t believe I’m actually going to hear her sing those lyrics, “It’s been such a long, long time…just the thought of you, makes my whole world turn misty blue,” writes Carmel Lonergan from Manchester, U.K.

Although it’s been decades since the signature recording soared to Number One on music charts, Dorothy Moore’s distinctive voice has earned her four Grammy nominations and instant connection with global audiences.

Lonergan, who will be celebrating her birthday in Clarksdale, and her husband, Richard, say they’re excited over being here for their first Sunflower. Two years ago she documented the Tennessee Williams Festival and became intrigued by the Sunflower legend.

From her home in Jackson, Moore mirrors the same sentiment: “I’m excited over performing at the Sunflower; I’ve attended several, and it’s an honor to be the headliner.”

Asked about selections, Moore says she will be introducing a new blues song just recorded, “Let the Healing Begin.”

“It was written for me by a blues singer friend of mine, E. G. Tight,” she said.

Moore also will be showcasing a new talent: playing harmonica.

“L. C. Ulmer introduced me to the harmonica in his kitchen,” says Moore. “Later we played a jam session at Hopson Plantation following Pinetop’s (Perkins) funeral.”

Moore says she grew up “surrounded by music.” Her father was Melvin Hendrex, a member of the Mississippi Blind Boys.

“He was a kind of rolling stone,” says Moore, who was raised in Jackson by her great-grandmother, a singer.

Getting her start in gospel at the age of five, she sang with the New Strangers Home Baptist Church Choir and became a soloist.

“But when I was around 12, my great-grandmother took me to talent shows on Farish Street,” she says.

Later at Jackson State University she formed a gospel group named The Poppies that toured with the Four Tops and Wilson Pickett and recorded for Epic Records.

Moore recorded “Misty Blue” and “Funny How Time Slips Away” for Malaco Records. Today she has her own label, Farish Street Records, that released her holiday album, “Please Come Home for Christmas.”

She is excited over Mississippi’s Blues Heritage Trail program, and the renovation of Farish Street in Jackson with its possible location of a B.B. King Club.

Moore has been honored with a Blues Trail marker and has been inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, the Mississippi Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Monterey Bay Blues Festival.

Asked to name her personal role models, Moore lists Mahalia Jackson, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, the Staple Singers, Shirley Caesar, and the Rev. Willie Morganfield (the late pastor of Clarksdale’s Bell Grove Baptist Church, and a first cousin of Muddy Water).

In July she was featured at Jackson’s Kings and Queens of Soul Award ceremony with Bobby Rush, Willie Clayton, Millie Jackson, and Denise LaSalle.

How does she describe her own voice today?

“I started out R&B,” she said. “Now I’m  blues.”

The three-day Sunflower Festival  (August 12-13-14) is free, staged entirely by volunteers, and funded by grants, corporate, business, and individual donations to the non-profit 503 c 3 , the Sunflower River Blues Association. Donations are tax-deductible. Visit for more information.

Headliner Dorothy Moore takes the main stage at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, August 14, 2011 in downtown Clarksdale