Scott Barretta returning to Natchez to talk about Charles Evers’ Blues Legacy

Blues historian Scott Barretta is returning to Natchez to talk about “Charles Evers’ Blues Legacy” in recognition of Black History Month. He will speak at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, at Historic Natchez Foundation, 108 S. Commerce St.

Barretta will present the same lecture at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, in Dumas Hall, Room 107, at the Lorman campus of Alcorn State University. Both events are free to the public. They are sponsored by the Southwest Mississippi Center for Culture & Learning at Alcorn State University.

“Charles Evers is deservedly best known for his contributions to the civil rights movement and his political engagement in the state, but I also think it’s important to recognize him as a pioneer in cultural tourism,” said Barretta. “Notably,” he added, “the annual Medgar Evers Homecoming Celebration concert featuring B.B. King and other blues greats, which brought in people from across the country, predated the Mississippi Delta Blues Festival by five years.”

Teresa Busby, the center’s executive director, said Barretta’s talk will address the impact Evers had on the public visibility of the blues in Mississippi. Busby said the presentation will also address Evers’ work as a DJ in Philadelphia, Miss., in the 1950s; a nightclub owner in Chicago and Mississippi; and as the owner for many years of a blues-oriented radio station in Jackson.

The first major show held by Evers occurred in 1973 at the Mississippi Fairgrounds in Jackson, Barretta said.  Evers recalled he had first visited this site when it was a makeshift jail where hundreds of civil rights activists were locked up, Barretta said.

“Now black and white can walk in there together for an evening of singing and dancing,” Evers noted on the first event. “That’s the way Medgar would have wanted it and he died trying to make that kind of joy possible.’”

In 1969, Charles Evers became the first African American mayor in Mississippi since the Reconstruction era when he was elected as mayor of Fayette.

Barretta’s last visit to Natchez occurred in October when he presented a talk on “Natchez’s Rich Blues Tradition.” A resident of Greenwood, Barretta is well known as the host of the MPB radio show “Highway 61.” He is a writer and researcher for the Mississippi Blues Trail. He also teaches sociology courses about music at the University of Mississippi.

For more information, send email to [email protected].