Thursday, July 25, 2013

Jessie Mae Hemphill (1923-2006)

photo by Steve Gardner
Let’s hear it for Ms. Jessie Mae Hemphill – a self proclaimed cowgirl, a pistol packing mama, a raw, gritty, talented northern Mississippi hill country blues singer and multi-instrumentalist. We hold her in high esteem over here at nakedcowgirl vintage. Though her commercial heyday was in the 1980s, Jessie Mae has played music most all of her life – she started her musical career when she was a young gal playing drums in a fife & drum band at local parties and picnics throughout the Mississippi hills. At around 8 years old, she learned guitar from her grandfather, Sid Hemphill, a blind band leader & multi-instrumentalist, who was renowned throughout the region, and was first recorded by Alan Lomax in the 1940s. He is certainly worth checking out as well; his rendition of John Henry is one of the best I’ve ever heard. Jessie Mae definitely inherited her grandfather’s raucous, happy, primal style of playing. The rhythm she establishes with her electric guitar (played in traditional Delta fashion) and a tambourine attached to her ankle, not to mention her distinct voice, is impossible to resist. Have a listen and see if you can keep from getting down.


  1. YESSS, I love Jessie Mae too! Love her voice, her jangly rhythms, and her penchant for leopard print. I first heard her song "Standing in My Doorway Crying" when I was about 14 or 15, and it was one of the first songs that just really hypnotized me.

    1. Jangly rhythms is a suiting description! Ya,I shared most of her boogies here, but I love her blues songs too. "Standing in My Doorway Crying" is a great song.

  2. wow! blowing my mind! thanks for the intro, i am truly loving this on a hot july afternoon. i can't wait to play her for darin.

  3. I've never heard about her, thank you for sharing !

    See U !

  4. wow! what a cool lady to aspire to be!!


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