Deep Inside the Blues: Photographs and Interviews (American Made Music) (Hardcover)
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Deep Inside the Blues collects thirty-four of Margo Cooper's interviews with blues artists and is illustrated with over 160 of her photographs, many published here for the first time. For thirty years, Cooper has been documenting the lives of blues musicians, their families and homes, neighborhoods, festivals, and gigs. Her photographic work combines iconic late-career images of many legendary figures including Bo Diddley, Honeyboy Edwards, B. B. King, Pinetop Perkins, and Hubert Sumlin with youthful shots of Cedric Burnside, Shemekia Copeland, and Sharde Thomas, themselves now in their thirties and forties. During this time, the Burnside and Turner families and other Mississippi artists such as T-Model Ford, James "Super Chikan" Johnson, and L. C. Ulmer entered the national and international spotlight, ensuring the powerful connection between authentic Delta, Hill Country, and Piney Woods blues musicians and their audience continues. In 1993, Cooper began photographing in the clubs around New England, then in Chicago, and before long in Mississippi and Helena, Arkansas. On her very first trips to Mississippi in 1997 and 1998, Cooper had the good fortune to photograph Sam Carr, Frank Frost, Bobby Rush, and Otha Turner, among others. "The blues come out of the field," Ulmer told Cooper. Seeing those fields, as well as the old juke joints, country churches, and people's homes, inspired her. She began recording interviews with the musicians, sometimes over a period of years, listening and asking questions as their narratives unfolded. Many of the key blues players of the period have already passed, making their stories and Cooper's photographs of them all the more poignant and valuable.
Margo Cooper is a photographer and oral historian working in the classic documentary tradition. She is a longtime contributing writer and photographer for Living Blues magazine. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times Lens blog.