Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

African-American Music

Music styles of African Americans from colonial times to the present

Blues Resources

Scholarly Encyclopedia Articles

  • "Blues" article in Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online, by Elijah Wald
  • "Blues" article in The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music

Search Article Databases for Journal Articles:

Non-Scholarly Sources:

Living Blues magazine


Delta Blues

Use OneSearch to search for this subject phrase:  Blues (Music)

Mississippi Delta
(in green)

Books About the Delta Blues

  • The Hidden History of Mississippi Blues​, by Roger Stolle and Lou Bopp
    ML 3521 .S76 2011
  • Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters who Revolutionized American Music, by Ted Gioia and Neil Harpe
    ML 3521 .G56 2008
  • Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues, by William R. Ferris
    ML 3521 .G58 2009
  • The Land Where the Blues Began, by Alan Lomax
    ML 3521 .L64 1993
  • The Road to Robert Johnson: The Genesis and Evolution of Blues in the Delta from the Late 1800s through 1938, by Edward Komara
    ML 420 .J735 K66 2007

Books about Individual Delta Blues Musicians

Chicago Blues

African-Americans from all over the South migrated Northward during "The Great Migration" during the first half of the Twentieth Century.  The Illinois Central Railroad carried people from the Mississippi Delta to Memphis and then on to Chicago, where musicians played for newly employed factory workers in South Side clubs.

In Chicago, the blues grew from a solo medium to a group endeavor, with piano and "harp" (harmonica), and a more powerful electrified guitar often taking the place of the acoustic guitar.  There was often a saxophone in the mix.  Chicago blues greatly influenced early Rock n' Roll and Rhythm and Blues.

Books about the Chicago Blues:

  • Exploring Chicago Blues: Inside the Scene, Past and Present
    ML 3521 .C86 2014
  • Chicago Blues: Portraits and Stories
    ML 394 .W5 2006
  • Going to Chicago: A Year on the Chicago Blues Scene
    ML 3521 .G63 1990
  • Machers and Rockers: Chess Records and the Business of Rock &Roll&
    ML 405 .C63 2004
  • Spinning Blues into Gold: The Chess Brothers and the Legendary Chess Records
    ML 405 .C64 2000
  • Bitten by the Blues: The Alligator Records Story, by Bruce Iglauer
    ML 3792 .A55 I45 2018

CDs by Muddy Waters:

  • Complete Plantation Recordings (1941-1942)  
    Compact Disc 2677
  • The Real Folk Blues (1947-1966)  
    Compact Disc 2675
  • Goodbye Newport Blues (1963, 1969)
    Compact Disc 4303
  • Folk Singer (1964)
    Compact Disc 11431
  • Muddy, Brass & The Blues (1966)
    Compact Disc 4526
  • Big Mama Thornton with the Muddy Waters Blues Band (1966)
    Compact Disc 15762
  • Essential Blues Grooves, Vol. 1 (1975)
    Compact Disc 15680
  • I'm Ready (1977)
    Compact Disc 13956
  • King Bee (1980)
    Compact Disc 13955
  • Muddy Waters (Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues)
    An overview of Muddy Waters' career in conjunction with the television Show
    Compact Disc 13964
  • DVD: Muddy Waters: Can't be Satisfied (2002)
    DVD Video 579 (Educational Technology & Resources Collection)

Big Bill Broonzy (1893-1958) grew up in Arkansas, across the river from the Mississippi side of the Delta.  After moving to Chicago in the 1920s, he began recording with his acoustic guitar and changed to electric in the 1940s, but played acoustic for folk music revival tours of the 1950s.  He inspired other blues musicians such as Muddy Waters, as well as early rock and roll guitarists.

  • Blue Smoke: The Recorded Journey of Big Bill Broonzy  ML 420 .B78 H68 2010
  • Big Bill Broonzy Sings Folk Songs, recorded in 1958 by Moses Asch during the folk music revival of the 1950s.  Compact Disc 6324
  • Legendary Country Blues Guitarists (two songs).  DVD Video 11591

Willie Dixon (1915 - 1992) was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi and moved to Chicago in 1936.  After World 2 he began recording for Chess Records and later became a producer for them.

  • I am the Blues: The Willie Dixon Story  ML 410 .D68 A3 1989

Buddy Guy (b. 1936)   He was born in Louisiana and moved to Chicago in the 1950s.  He learned the blues on a diddley bow and later played guitar.   He was a session guitarist for Chess Records and broke out as a soloist in the 1980s.  Today he is one of the best-known blues musician, playing rock-tinged blues.  He has collaborated with Eric Clapton.

  • When I Left Home: My Story 
    ML 219 .G86 A3 2012
  • Living Proof (2010) 
    Compact Disc 19607
  • Blues Singer (2003) 
    Compact Disc 13662 
  • Feels Like Rain (1993)
    Compact Disc 5214

Albert King (1923 - 1992) was born in Indianola, Mississippi and spent part of his childhood in
Arkansas.  He moved to Chicago in the 1950s, but then left for St. Louis and finally settled in Memphis.  He influenced rock and blues guitarists alike.

In Session (With Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1983)
Compact Disc 12022


Sonny Boy Williamson (The Second) (ca. 1912 - 1965) was born Alex Miller but known as Sonny Boy Williamson despite another well-known harmonica player having the name first.  He was born in Mississippi and traveled the Delta absorbing the blues sound.  He recorded for Chess Records' Checker Records label in the late 1950s and early 1960s.   He famously recorded an album with the British Invasion rock band, The Yardbirds, which featured Eric Clapton.

The Real Folk Blues
Compact Disc 12168


A Diddley-Bow

Bo Diddley (1928 - 2008) His stage name is a play on the diddley-bow, a folk instrument associated with the blues.   He is credited with transitioning blues into the rock idiom.  He is one of the famous blues musicians to record with Chess Records.

His Best
Compact Disc 15114