Southern Agenda

She’s Got the Rhythm (and the Blues)

Illustration: Tim Bower

In her song “She Shimmy,” when Libby Rae Watson, a blues singer and guitarist from Pascagoula, belts out, “Hill Country spirits, all in this hall, clock strikes midnight, we’ll be having us a ball,” she pays homage to the musicians who blazed a path for her. Names like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf have long been a part of the Mississippi blues collective memory, and now, thanks to music lovers in Clarksdale, the women of blues are getting their due, too. “There’s a special energy in this hub for the blues, community, and revitalization in downtown Clarksdale,” says Colleen Buyers, who with her organization Shared Experiences launched the Women in Blues Festival (May 19–20), now in its second year. Watson will open this year’s festival, followed by performances by Edna Nicole Luckett and LaLa Craig. “I was so happy that we blues artists finally have a space just for women,” Watson says. “In my fifty years of performing, I have never seen an event like this.”