- Since I’ve Laid My Burden Down
- Moaning the Blues
- Lazy Blues
- Avalon Blues
- Big Leg Blues
- Candy Man Blues
- Richland Woman Blues
- Wise and Foolish Virgins
- Hop Joint
- Monday Morning Blues
- I’ve Got the Blues and I Can’t Be Satisfied
- Keep on Knocking
- The Chicken
- Louis Collins
- Nearer My God to Thee
- and many others
John Smith Hurt was born in Teoc, Mississippi, in 1893 – an unincorporated town in Carroll County (just outside of Greenwood). He was raised on a farm in Avalon and worked as a farmhand and on the railroad line.
Hurt married Gertrude Hoskins in 1916, and they had a daughter and a son: T.C. Hurt and Idae Mae Hurt. The marriage did not last long and Hurt married Jessie Nelson with whom he had other children.
Hurt held other jobs throughout his lifetime including working for the WPA, at a factory in Jackson, MS, and various jobs for a local landowner.
Hurt died in 1966 in Grenada, Mississippi.
Hurt began playing the guitar in 1903 and within a few years he began playing at local gatherings. He played guitar with fiddler Willie Narmour who was the one who recommended Hurt to the Okeh Records talent scouts in 1928. Hurt recorded his first music with Okeh Records to moderate success.
In 1963, guitarist and blues music fan Tom Hoskins came to Avalon to seek out Hurt and his music. Hoskins had heard Hurt’s music on the Anthology of American Folk Music and his reaching out to find Hurt rekindled Hurt’s music career in the early 1960’s.
Hurt moved to D.C. in 1963 and began playing music in the local area including folk festivals, universities, and local eateries. He recorded three albums on the Vanguard Records label. More information may be found on the websites below.
- The Mudcat Cafe magazine has photos of Hurt’s home and excellent biography.
- All Music’s Biography of Mississippi John Hurt
- Blues greats re-emerge from the pages of history