Piney Woods

Elmore Williams

Elmore Williams lives with his wife in a comfortable home in the suburbs of Natchez and is retired after years of working in sawmills, a bakery, and a dairy. Although he’s played music for nearly sixty years, Williams only spent about two years working full-time as a musician, and today he mostly plays at festivals,

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L.C. Ulmer (1928-2016)

Lee Chester “L.C.” Ulmer was a native of South Mississippi who for 50 years played music all over the U.S.—“like horse manure, everywhere!”—before returning home to the Ellisville area in 2001. He was a multi-instrumentalist who played guitar, keyboards, drums, fiddle, banjo mandolin, kazoo, and harmonica, and performed for many years as a “twelve-piece” one-man-band.

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John & Coleman Stuart

John Stuart was born in 1932 in the Bellevue community west of Hattiesburg, where he still lives today. His great-great-grandfather had emigrated from Scotland, moving across the southern United States to Texas. His great-grandfather, a Civil War veteran, bounced back to Mississippi. John’s father farmed and was a Baptist minister with responsibilities for several churches.

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Joyce Shearer

Joyce Shearer is a good example of a person who becomes involved in the arts later in life, but who is transformed by them. A native of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Shearer sang older country songs and listened to her mother tell jokes while growing up, but she did not perform in public until she

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Bill Rogers

Bill Rogers grew up in the house next door to his current home in Collins, Mississippi. It is an old family house built on land his great-grandfather bought in 1897. Rogers is a public health environmentalist from nine to five, then goes home and plays bluegrass and old-timey fiddle. He didn’t start fiddling until he

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Johnny Rawls

Johnny Rawls was born near Pascagoula, Mississippi, where his father worked in the shipyards. He grew up on a 70-acre farm in Stone County (his father commuted to the coast). Music has been in his family and in the air at home as long as he can remember. His older sister, older brother, and mother

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Charles Nelson

Charles Nelson lives in McCall Creek, in Franklin County, Mississippi, on land purchased by his father in the 1930s, less than five miles from the house in which he was born. Nelson is a talented, although unrecorded, boogie-woogie blues pianist—a style that features rhythmic left hand with melodies played with the right, is largely instrumental

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