2009 Student Research Conference:
22nd Annual Student Research Conference

Arthur Lee Williams: An Authentic Blues Master
Paul H. Niehaus
Dr. Marc Rice, Faculty Mentor

Born in Mississippi in 1937, Arthur Lee Williams is an authentic Delta Blues style harmonica player. Following the trend of many southern African-American musicians, he moved to Chicago in the early 1950s, where he played with greats like Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Williamson. In 1958, having soaked in the Delta-to Chicago experience, Williams moved back to Mississippi before settling permanently in St. Louis in 1972, where he met another community with its own rich blues traditions. This paper looks at his life as a Bluesman and makes an effort to explore the various influences on his music with a focus on his role within the St. Louis blues community. It includes historical perspective as well as descriptions of musical techniques employed in Williams playing. Having lived and participated in three rich and distinct blues communities, Arthur is one of only a few survivors out of his generation of Bluesmen.

Keywords: blues music, Arthur Lee Williams, Mississippi Delta, Chicago, St. Louis, harmonica, harp, African-American

African-American Studies

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 12-5
Location: OP 2111
Time: 9:15

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