Culture Heritage and Politics of Reconciliation: Reinventing the Blues in the Narratives of The Delta Blues Museum and the B.B. King Museum

Wilfried Raussert, Bielefeld University

“Mississippi Goddam,” a song written and performed by the African American jazz singer and pianist Nina Simone, captures all too well the national imaginary of the state of Mississippi as racist backwater. The song was written in 1964 during one of the most turbulent periods of U.S. history. It was first released on her album Nina Simone in Concert, based on recordings of three concerts she gave at Carnegie Hall the same year. The song mirrors Simone’s response to the racial violence in the 1960s, the anger she felt at the murder of African American Medgar Evers in Mississippi, and the 16th street Baptist Church bombing in which four black children got killed. Released as a single, the song became a national anthem during the Civil Rights movement. Today, the state of Mississippi is working hard to improve its image and reputation. It welcomes visitors with the sign ‘Welcome to the Home of America’s Music.’ Formerly known as the Magnolia State, the state of Mississippi now officially boasts its reputation as the home of U.S.-American national music.

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