Mississippi blues, country, gospel, soul, and rock 'n' roll artists have played a major role in the development of American popular music, and many have been recognized by The Recording Academy with GRAMMY® Awards, Hall O f Fame inductions, and Lifetime Achievement Awards. Mississippi-born honorees include Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Sam Cooke, Bo Diddley, Elvis Presley, John Lee Hooker, and Robert Johnson.
Mississippi Blues lies at the root of many strains of popular music celebrated every year in the GRAMMY® Awards. The blues emerged in Mississippi and other states around the turn of the twentieth century, around the same time that the phonograph was gaining popularity. With the success of blues recordings by African American singers in the 1920s, the music became an economically important, though initially low-status, sector of the recording industry. In later decades mainstream acknowledgement of the blues increased dramatically, a development that was both reflected in and aided by various forms of recognition by The Recording Academy®.
The GRAMMY® Awards were established in 1958, at a time when blues was being eclipsed in the charts by R&B music. During the first decade of the awards, several Mississippi blues artists were nominated in the “Best R&B Performance” category, and the first to receive this award was B. B. King for his 1970 breakthrough hit, “The Thrill Is Gone.” Blues gained more prominence that year with the creation of the award for “Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording,” which Muddy Waters received for six of his albums between 1971 and 1979. A “Traditional Blues” category was established in 1981, and between 1982 and 2007 B. B. King was the recipient ten times; King also received awards for Best Pop Instrumental Performance, Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals, and Best Rock Instrumental Performance. Other Mississippi-born artists who received GRAMMY® Awards in the “Traditional Blues” category include John Lee Hooker, who received three, Ike Turner, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, James Cotton, Henry Townsend, Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins, and David “Honeyboy” Edwards. Roebuck “Pops” Staples received the 1994 award in the “Contemporary Blues” category, which was instituted in 1987.
The Recording Academy has also retroactively acknowledged the role of Mississippi music via the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame® Award, established in 1973, which honors recordings of historical significance. Among the dozens of songs featuring Mississippi natives are pioneer recordings by Charley Patton, the Mississippi Sheiks, and Jimmie Rodgers; early electric blues classics by Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, and John Lee Hooker; and soul anthems by Sam Cooke, Rufus Thomas, and several groups that included one or more Mississippi-born members such as the Supremes, the Temptations, and the Staple Singers. Mississippians who have received The Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Awards include B. B. King, Robert Johnson, John Lee Hooker, Sam Cooke, Bo Diddley, Honeyboy Edwards, Muddy Waters, Pinetop Perkins, and opera diva Leontyne Price.
This marker’s placement on the L.A. LIVE campus acknowledges the presence of The GRAMMY Museum®, which offers blues education events that sometimes feature Mississippi artists, and the staging of the annual GRAMMY® Awards Ceremony at the Staples Center.
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