Mississippi John Hurt, born John Smith Hurt, was an American country blues singer and guitarist. He was born in Mississippi in 1892 and began playing guitar and singing at a young age. He gained recognition for his fingerpicking style and his ability to mix elements of ragtime and gospel music into his blues. He recorded several albums in the 1920s and performed locally but his career slowed down and he went back to farming. He was rediscovered in the early 1960s by folk music enthusiasts and his career was revitalized. He performed at major music festivals and recorded several more albums before his death in 1966. He left a lasting impact on the folk and blues music scenes and is considered a master of fingerstyle guitar.
Known for his mesmerizing, almost hypnotic, alternating basslines, with groovy treble notes sprinkled in, alongside his smooth singing, Mississippi John Hurt is loved for all of his musicianship. John Fahey, who got to know Hurt in the 1960s during the American Folk Revival, recalled in later interviews how Hurt still had a special kind of magic on the guitar, especially when heard in person. Songs like Spike Driver Blues, Avalon Blues, and Pallet On the Floor illustrate Hurt's ways around the guitar, with those bouncy basslines and beautiful melodies.
Mississippi John Hurt was a master of the fingerstyle guitar and a virtuosic blues singer, whose music captivated audiences for decades. Born John Smith Hurt in Mississippi in 1892, he was raised in a musical household and began playing guitar at a young age. His fingers danced across the fretboard with ease, creating a unique blend of ragtime and gospel influences in his blues.
Hurt's career began to take off in the 1920s, as he recorded several albums and performed for audiences across the South. But just as he was hitting his stride, a series of personal setbacks and a changing musical landscape caused his career to stall. He returned to farming and a quiet life, all but forgotten by the world.
But decades later, a group of folk music enthusiasts stumbled upon an old recording of Hurt's and were immediately enchanted by his music. They set out on a mission to find the mysterious musician, and after much searching, they finally tracked him down in his small Mississippi town.
Hurt was initially hesitant to return to the spotlight, but the enthusiasts convinced him to come out of retirement and perform at the Newport Folk Festival. The audience was enraptured by his music, and suddenly, Mississippi John Hurt was a star once again.
He spent the next few years performing at major festivals, recording new albums, and touring the country. His music, once thought lost to time, was now being heard by new generations of listeners. He was even invited to perform at the White House for President Lyndon B. Johnson.
But just as suddenly as his career had been reborn, it was cut short. Mississippi John Hurt passed away in 1966, leaving behind a legacy of timeless music that continues to inspire and captivate audiences to this day. His music is considered a cornerstone of the folk and blues music scenes, and his influence can be heard in the work of countless musicians who came after him.
The story of Mississippi John Hurt is one of both tragedy and triumph. He faced setbacks and obscurity, but through it all, his music remained a shining beacon, waiting to be rediscovered. And when it was, it lit up the world once again.