- The Greatest of The Delta Blues Singers
- Skip James Today!
- Devil Got My Woman
- I’m So Glad
- She Lyin’
- Complete Early Recordings (1930)
- Devil Got My Woman
- Cypress Grove Blues
- Little Cow And Calf Is Gonna Die Blues
- Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues
- Drunken Spree
- Cherry Ball Blues
- Jesus Is A Mighty Good Leader
- Illinois Blues
- How Long “Buck”
- 4 O’Clock Blues
- 22-20 Blues
- Hard Luck Child
- If You Haven’t Any Hay Get On Down The Road
- Be Ready When He Comes
- Yola My Blues Away
- I’m So Glad
- What Am I To Do Blues
- Special Rider Blues
By Latasha Jordan (SHS)
Born June 9, 1902, in Bentonia, Mississippi, Nehemiah “Skip” James studied the guitar at an early age until he became a master at it. When he was eight, people called him “Skippy” as a nickname. In high school James learned how to play the piano. James played the piano and organ in church (Larkin, 2131), which people said he loved to do. In his adult church life; he became a Baptist minister and formed a gospel group which toured churches (Clarke, 595).
James’s mother was not mentioned in any of the sources. His father was said to be “a local lowlife” (Guralnick 95) because he abandoned the family (Clarke, 595). His father was also a minister at one point in time. Either his mother or father brought Skip a two-dollar and fifty cent guitar. Skip James mastered what is called the Bentonia sound and developed it into a distinctive, personal sound. He eventually moved to the city of Jackson, about twenty miles east of Bentonia.. He played for parties, roadhouses, jukes, and barrelhouses in the South and Midwest, but mainly Memphis in the 1920’s. He attended divinity school and became active in ministry work from the mid-twenties. He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1932 and supported himself by preaching and playing churches and concerts in the forties. James became an ordained Methodist minister in 1946 and preached until 1964 when he again started working in the music business doing folk festivals and college concerts as the blues were revived.
James was said to recorded for Paramount in 1931 twenty-six masters (Larkin, 2131). However, some say eighteen masters were cut (Guralnick, 93). However, he was not fully paid for this work. In addition, the Depression caused a lack of sales. James became discouraged and moved to Texas, where he formed a gospel group, The Dallas Texas Jubilee Singers, and traveled with his father on a revival tour throughout the South. He also was once employed in a Memphis Whorehouse as a pianist (Guralnick, 93). James became pretty much lost to music until blues collector, John Fahey, found him in 1964 and took him to the Newport Folk Festival. Fahey discovered him in a hospital in Tunica, Mississippi. His rediscovery was a dream come true because some people thought that he would never sing or play anymore. After this rediscovery some people thought that James was one of the Greatest Blues men (http://edu:8080/blues/Skip_James). He toured with Mississippi John Hurt at the Newport Folk Festival. Although James’s illness was giving him a hard time, he still could pluck a guitar and press the keys on the piano, but eventually James’s illness forced him to retire. He died from a prolonged battle with cancer on October 3, 1969 (Larkin, 2131).
James is still remembered as a Great Blues man to his fans, friends and relatives. Some say he was “The Greatest Blues man of the Delta” (http://www.hub.org/bluesnet/artists/skip.james.html). In 1992 he was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame.
- (1902) Nehemiah “Skip James” was born.
- (1909) James became interested in music.
- (1917) James was taught how to play the guitar and perform the blues.
- (1931-1935) James completed twenty-six sides, but only eighteen were found. He formed a gospel group and became an ordained Baptist Minister.
- (1940’s – 50’s) James worked outside of music.
- (1946) He became an ordained Methodist Minister.
- (1960’s) James recorded for the Vanguard label in the ’60s.
- (1964) James was rediscovered in music and attended the Newport Folk Festival with Mississippi John Hurt.
- (1965) Skip James Today! was released.
- (1969) James died from a battle of cancer.
- (1992) He was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame
- Larkin, Colin. “James, Skip.” The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Volume 3. New York, NY: Stockton Press, 1965. 2131.
- Clarke, Donald. “James, Skip.” The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Volume 2. 1989. 595.
- Grisham, John. “James, Skip.” The Oxford American. Mississippi: 1996. 93-96.