History Is Lunch: Diane Williams, “The Life and Legacy of B.B. King–A Mississippi Blues Icon”

On January 22, 2020, Diane Williams discussed her new book The Life and Legacy of B.B. King–A Mississippi Blues Icon as part of the History Is Lunch series.

Williams presents an overview of King’s life in her book but also gathers recollections of the artist from his children and interviews with musicians such as Bobby Rush, Jesse Robinson, and Melvin “Housecat” Hendrex.

“This is the story of Riley B.B. King and his journey from the cotton fields of Mississippi to the most elegant venues throughout the world,” writes acclaimed musician and teacher London Branch in his foreword, “Here is a book that tells of the life of a great blues musician—his struggles, his failures, and his successes.”

New Jersey native Diane Williams has lived in Mississippi for more than thirty years and is the recently retired director of grants for the Mississippi Arts Commission. She is the author of Mississippi Folk and the Tales They Tell: Myths, Legends, and Baldfaced Lies, Annie Mae Jumps the Broom, and other works. Williams has been a professional storyteller since 1992 and was awarded a 2008 Zora Neale Hurston Award by the National Association of Black Storytellers. She has taught storytelling for the Galef Institute, the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education, and in residencies at Millsaps College and Jackson State University. Williams is a member of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi, and her fiber art has been exhibited in museums, galleries, and on college campuses.

History Is Lunch is a weekly lecture series of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History that 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 in Jackson. MDAH livestreams videos of the program at noon on Wednesdays on their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/MDAHOfficial/.

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