Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Exhibit of Rare Blues Photos Debuts at National Blues Museum

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Exhibit of Rare Blues Photos Debuts at National Blues Museum

Article excerpt

St. Louis is getting a first look at some rare blues photographs in a traveling exhibition opening this weekend at the National Blues Museum.

"The Sepia Magazine Photo Archive: Blues in Review" showcases largely unseen images that originated in Sepia, the classic African-American magazine. The Fort Worth, Texas-based publication by George Levitan ceased operation in 1983.

St. Louis is the first city where "Blues in Review" will be seen; museum visitors can view the exhibit in the Scott and Diane McCuaig and Family Gallery through Oct. 13.

"A lot of these photographs have never been seen beyond their original publication," says exhibit curator Carole L. Anthony. "You could chalk that up to a number of reasons."

She says the photos sat ignored in boxes for many years.

Thirty-five images are featured in the exhibit. Some blues artists are featured in multiple photos, including B.B. King, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Johnny "Guitar" Watson and Ruth Brown.

Others include Muddy Waters, WC Handy, Etta James, Nina Simone, Ray Charles, Johnnie Taylor, Bo Diddley, Ethel Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Guitar Slim, Gatemouth Brown, LaVern Baker, Dinah Washington, Little Willie John, Louis Jordan, T-Bone Walker and Jimmy Witherspoon.

"It features artists of the blues genre, some not as well known as others but nevertheless still significant in the evolution of blues music," Anthony says.

All of the photos are black and white, and none have been retouched. "I wanted to keep the integrity of these photos," she says.

The photos date from the late 1940s through the early '60s.

The images were made by various photographers, including Calvin Littlejohn, who took several of them. Many of his photos were taken at the Masonic Temple, "the only place in the Dallas-Fort Worth area where blacks could go perform," Anthony says. …

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