A school in Jackson, Mississippi attended by Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson has received a marker along the Mississippi Blues Trail. The marker is the 100th on the trail. Wilson chose her childhood school, Brinkley Middle School, for the marker.
Although Wilson is usually regarded as a jazz vocalist, she has explored many forms of music on her recordings. Subsequently, the marker acknowledges her contributions to and inspiration from the blues. In addition to drawing liberally on the blues in her own compositions, Wilson has covered songs by artists including Son House, Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters.
Wilson’s 2002 CD, Belly of the Sun, was mostly recorded in a train depot in Clarksdale, and featured Mississippi musicians including Jesse Robinson, Abie “Boogaloo” Ames, Olu Daru and Rhonda Richmond.
She has produced two CDs of Richmond, who played with Wilson in their intermediate school band and in the group Past, Present, Future when they were students at Jackson State University.
The marker also acknowledges the historically strong links between jazz and blues in Jackson via Wilson’s father, Herman Fowlkes Jr., a native of the Chicago area who arrived in Jackson in 1948. Fowlkes performed on trumpet, and later mostly bass, in the jazz/R&B orchestras of Duke Oatis, Duke Huddleston and Joe Dyson as well as in jazz combos with musicians including Andy Hardwick.
Fowlkes also appeared on recordings for Jackson’s Trumpet label by bluesmen Sonny Boy Williamson II and Jerry “Boogie” McCain, and performed live with national R&B artists including Sam Cooke and Ivory Joe Hunter.