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To Preserve, Promote, Educate, and Celebrate
Mississippi's Blues Heritage!
The Howlin’ Wolf Blues Society of West Point, Ms. Inc. is a state chartered non-profit corporation and was established in 1995 by Mayor Kenny Dill, Dr. Joe K. Stephens, and Albert Mattix. That same year, Chester Arthur Burnett, “The Howlin’ Wolf”, was inducted into the West Point Hall of Fame.
The objectives of the Blues Society are to promote blues education in North Mississippi and to perpetuate the musical achievements of Chester Arthur Burnett, a native son of Clay County, Ms., and other blues greats such as Bukka White, Big Joe Williams, and West Point's lesser known Bluesman, "Piano Red". To honor “The Wolf”, his home town holds an annual memorial festival. To date, there have been eleven successful festivals and a memorial black granite statue of “The Wolf”, along with a memorial bench and marker honoring Lillie Handley Burnett, "Ms. Wolf", placed in our park. In honor of Wolf, our society and the Burnett family received the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame Award, the Walk of Fame Award on historic Beale Street at the VIP party before the 2002 Handy Awards, and the Peavine Award at Cleveland, MS. given by Steve Lavere and the Mississippi Delta Blues Hall of Fame. In 2007, the Society was honored by receiving the prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive Award.
We introduced the achievements of “The Wolf’s” role in American music to the public through newspaper, television, and our Blues in the School Program. Subsequent educational projects have included hundreds of public, private and college students in Blues history along with Blues artists and hands on sessions.
We are currently involved in promoting the establishment in West Point of a Howlin’ Wolf Museum that will house a Blues educational/research center and archive depository.
The Howlin’ Wolf Memorial Blues Festival is sponsored by The Howlin’ Wolf Blues Society, area businesses and many other prominent organizations. The festival has a strong educational element which is tied to Howlin’ Wolf and other great Mississippi Blues artists. Previous festival artists have included: J. B. and the Midnighters (Delta Blues Educational Program), Candy Shines and Johnny Shines T-Town Allstars, Paul “Wine” Jones, Kenny Brown Blues Band, R. L. Burnside, Cedric Burnside, Junior Kimbrough with the Fat Possum Juke Joint Caravan, Jake and Louise Moore, Mookie Wilson Band, Honeyboy Edwards, The Blue Birds, Clarence “Bluesman” Davis, Mr. Downchild, Little Howlin’ Wolf, Ben Hall, Lightnin’ Boy Malcom, Blah Blah Woof Woof, Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang, The Sam Lay Blues Band, Henry Gray and The Cats with Buck Sinegal, Frank Swan, Jody Williams, Hubert Sumlin, Rob Stone and the CNotes, The Breakbone Blues Band, Big Joe Shelton, Willie King and the Liberators, Richard Johnston, Rev. Slicks BBQ, Mark Lemhouse, Bobby Rush, Terry "Harmonica" Bean, Rory Block, Diunna Greenleaf and the Blue Mercy Band, Willie King and the Black Prairie Blues Kings, Blind Mississippi Morris, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Colin Linden, Topper Price, Ben Prestage, and Big George Brock.
The Howlin’ Wolf Blues Society has attracted world-wide interest. We are active members of The Blues Foundation of Memphis, TN, which is the “father” of all Blues societies. We maintain strong ties with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at Ole Miss University, and the Mississippi ETV has twice filmed specials. The Living Blues Magazine with former editors, Jim O’Neal and David Nelson along with Scott Baretta are strong supporters. The Chester Arthur Burnett family, the late Mrs. Lillie Burnett along with daughters, Barbra and Bettye support our efforts and have been a prominent part of our society from the beginning. Mr. Sam Phillips of Sun Records, who was the first to record “The Wolf”, endorsed our program and has participated in radio and newspaper interviews. He was also our honored guest at the Fifth festival. Sam stated that of all the artists he recorded, that the Wolf was the most powerful. We couldn't agree more! After Wolf's departure from West Point as a teen, he continued to come back every year to hunt and fish, visit friends and relatives, and perform his powerful and haunting blues.
With this said, The Howlin’ Wolf Blues Society will continue to work to preserve and educate the people about the great musical heritage that is called “The Blues”.
The Howlin’ Wolf Blues Society
Kenny Dill - President
Dr. Joe K. Stephens - Co-President
Richard Ramsey - Program Director/Vice-President
Eddie & Rose Johnson
Mrs. Ann Miller
Mr. and Mrs. Walter Newell
Mr. and Mrs. James Cook