On August 4, 2021, Bobby Rush and Brinda Fuller Willis presented “My American Blues Story” as part of the History Is Lunch series.
Rush’s new memoir with co-author Herb Powell, I Ain’t Studdin’ Ya: My American Blues Story, chronicles his life from early years and rise to fame to his current schedule of hundreds of high-energy shows annually. Signed copies will be for sale.
Emmett Ellis Jr. was born in Homer, Louisiana, and adopted the stage name Bobby Rush out of respect for his father, a pastor. He started playing juke joints in Little Rock as a teenager, donning a fake mustache to trick club owners into thinking he was older. After a move to Chicago he worked with Earl Hooker, Luther Allison, and Freddie King, and sat in with many of his musical heroes, such as Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, and Little Walter. Rush scored his first hit with "Chicken Heads," and Rolling Stone magazine listed one of his records in their Top 10 blues albums of the 1970s.
“Bobby Rush’s career stretches back to the late 1940s and provides a link to older styles of Black entertainment,” said Brinda Fuller Willis. “His performances draw on the minstrel tradition by directly engaging the audience and prominently featuring dancers.”
Bobby Rush is a Grammy award-winning blues musician who has recorded more than 400 songs over the course of five decades in the music industry. He is a Blues Hall of Famer, a 13-time Blues Music Award winner, and a B.B. King Entertainer of the Year. I Aint't Studdin' Ya is his first book.
Brinda Willis is a writer for the Jackson Advocate newspaper and an expert on blues and African American foodways. She holds an M.Ed. in vocational rehabilitation counseling from Mississippi State University and a PhD in theology from New Foundation Theological Seminary. Willis is the CEO of Twice as Nice Entertainment, LLC.
History Is Lunch is sponsored by the John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The weekly lecture series of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History explores different aspects of the state's past. The hour-long programs are held in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum building at 222 North Street in Jackson.