Honor MS Bluesman's Legacy

$1,710 of $2,000 goal

Raised by 38 people in 2 months
T. DeWayne Moore  OXFORD, MS
We recently replaced the marker on his brother Sam Chatmon's grave, and we plan to mark the grave of Bo Chatmon (Carter) and restore the abandoned Nitta Yuma Cemetery.   Seeing as we reached our initial goal for this GoFundMe campaign, I decided to raise the goal to allow everyone to contribute towards the future maintenance of this graveyard as well as our other markers, all of which are listed here: 

http://www.mtzionmemorialfund.org/p/musician-memorials.html

The Mt. Zion Memorial Fund is dedicating the marker for Eddie Cusic on March 4th in Greenville, Mississippi. We will be visiting the cemetery at Nitta Yuma that morning and examining records from the Hollandale Mortuary. We will report back after the dedication. Thank you for support in our endeavor.

Please share our campaign.  Thank you all so very much!


It is difficult to exaggerate the historical significance of Armenter Chatmon in regards to the Mississippi blues. As blues historian Steve Calt points out, only one Mississippian—Memphis Minnie—made more pre-World War II records. His music, moreover, proved some of the most original of all the recorded musicians in the South. Considering the deep well of traditional material that he could have drawn from, his inventiveness is even more remarkable. The majority of his estimated 150 sides reflect the work of a prodigious composer and astute businessman, who managed to keep heading into recording studios long after most blues musicians’ careers had ended.



Despite his massive recording catalogue, his life and career has suffered from serious neglect among scholars of the pre-World War II music industry, largely due to his reputation for using sexual metaphors in his songs. Myths, debauchery, itinerant lifestyles, and religious folklore proved too enticing for some who simply hoped to perpetuate blues stereotypes, while the integrity, dependability, longevity, versatility, and creativity of Armenter Chatmon was too easy to dismiss as footnotes in the career of a purveyor of crude hokum blues. This text demonstrates that his career and work has not succumbed, nor diminished in significance, despite such attempts to mar his historical legacy.

"The County Farm Blues" was recorded on February 12, 1940 in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the last of in upwards of 150 sides recorded by arguably the most professional songwriter and recording artist of the Pre-World War II South. Born to Henderson Chatmon while staying on the county convict farm of Dr. Dupree in Bolton, Mississippi, Armenter Chatmon came up in the highly musical world that seemed to reverberate around his father and mother on the farm (see, "Dr Dupree's Convict Farm," Hinds County Gazette, Oct 8, 1887). The family string band performed all around at different house parties and tourist destinations, some of which impressed so much that local journalists made note of these troubadours in brevities included in the Jackson Daily News (Jackson Daily News, May 7, 1913).


Armenter (his brothers called him Bo) Chatmon later served as the central organizing force in The Mississippi Sheiks, a string band that has since achieved legendary status in the annals of American music. Due to the rest of the groups penchant for the nightlife of the Roaring 20s (so to speak), Bo was the group's manager and he held all of the group's money for travel, lodging, and other necessities during their excursions to record in such cities as 1) San Antonio, TX 2) Jackson, MS 3) Atlanta, GA 4) Grafton, WI 5) New Orleans, LA 6) Chicago, IL &7) Shreveport, LA. Major Records Companies--such as Okeh and Paramount--demonstrated their complete trust in him over and over again to handle everything involved with transporting the group safely and on time to recording sessions in major industrial cities--urban locales that contrasted sharply with the rural, flatness of the Delta.

Though all of the brothers settled down to farming and started families of their own (Bo in fact believed he would have been a very successful farmer), Bo maintained his relationships with the different recording companies, all of which seemed to hold him in high regards not only as a competent studio musician but also a reliable talent scout. His failing eyesight may have cut his career as a sharecropper short, but it did not in any way impede his creativity and reliability. Recording under the name "Bo Carter," he made several more trips to these cities, recorded scores of original--not traditional--material, and was responsible for the only recordings of artists such as Eugene Powell and Mississippi Matilda.


Not all his originals were risque and comical--what some scholars consider commercial blues. "The County Farm Blues" is so historically accurate in its depiction of sentencing as a means to obtain free labor on any one of the work farms in every county in Mississippi. Bo Carter makes the listener understand what it was like to face an unsympathetic judge who needed bodies to work and passed sentence of ninety days or $100 fine. Most folks, of course, lacked the cash on hand to dole out $100 in the 1930s Great Depression. In the end, Bo Carter reveals his opinion that it's impossible to experience true freedom under such an oppressive system. He plans to leave that place upon his release and make the unincorporated territories his new home.

The truth of his story knows no entendres, no comical theme, no slick language. Bo Carter was perhaps the most gifted individual who navigated the recording industry in the 1920s and 1930s. The historical truth of his more than legendary status challenges stereotypes about blues artists of the period and explodes the myths about blues musicians from the country. He was an efficient manager in almost every aspect of the business. He really was "an all-around man."

Bo Carter c. 1960 in Memphis
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Update 10
Posted by T. DeWayne Moore
3 days ago
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On March 18, 2017, the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund and Mark Blasingame, of findagrave.com, visited Henry Phelps in Nitta Yuma, Mississippi. We visited a couple of different cemeteries in the vicinity, including Nitta Yuma Cemetery, the final resting place of Armenter Chatmon--aka Bo Carter, of the Mississippi Sheiks. He wanted us to let everyone know that the cemetery is open to the public and accessible via an easement that goes around the adjacent field. This short film shows the relatively well-kept rural burial ground as we found it upon our arrival. We plan to dedicate a historical marker in honor of Bo Carter in July. The last frame shows the view from Carter's grave on the edge of the field.

Please visit www.mtzionmemorialfund.org/p/the-unmarked-grave-of-bo-carter.html

Music by the Coffee Grinders
www.facebook.com/TheCoffeeGrinders/
Nitta Yuma Cemetery
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Update 9
Posted by T. DeWayne Moore
1 month ago
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The long sheet of generosity. We can think of Bo Carter, in this sense, as similar to the Ghostbusters and the Statue of Liberty in Part II. All the bad feelings and general nastiness in society that's so polarizing--creating all the negative pink slime in the movie--was defeated if only for a while by a symbol which reflects many of the things we consider the better angels of our nature. Sometimes we neglect them, forget them, or silence them, but they remain nevertheless, simply waiting for someone to [cover them in good positively charged slime and use them to attack Vigo in the movie] remember the power of that symbol and use it to bring some of us back together for at least a little while ....thank you all so much
The Long Sheet of Goodness
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Update 8
Posted by T. DeWayne Moore
1 month ago
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Our Headstone Blues Initiative to place a memorial on the unmarked grave of Bo Carter has an end goal of $3,000--roughly the same amount raised for a recent memorial to his brother, Sam Chatmon.

We are at 95% of that goal. 90% of the GoFundMe campaign. Only $136 to go.

Since Nitta Yuma Cemetery is abandoned and located on private land, it will require some careful repairs to fallen and damaged markers as well as general maintenance. We also plan to get Nitta Yuma Cemetery certified as a historic site with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) and make sure it's marked on all county road maps.

http://www.mtzionmemorialfund.org/p/the-unmarked-grave-of-bo-carter.html
Getting Strong Now!!!!!!!!
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Update 7
Posted by T. DeWayne Moore
1 month ago
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Our Headstone Blues Initiative to place a memorial on the unmarked grave of Bo Carter has an end goal of $3,000--roughly the same amount raised for a recent memorial to his brother, Sam Chatmon. Since Nitta Yuma Cemetery is abandoned and located on private land, it will require some careful repairs to fallen and damaged markers as well as general maintenance. We also plan to get Nitta Yuma Cemetery certified as a historic site with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) and make sure it's marked on all county road maps. We currently have raised an estimated 83% of our goal.

Click below to read Elaine Hughes account of Bo Carter performing at her house in Vicksburg.
www.mtzionmemorialfund.org/p/elaine-hughes-june-27-2001-july-15-1935.html
Fruit is Good
Bo Carter Who?
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$1,710 of $2,000 goal

Raised by 38 people in 2 months
Created January 25, 2017
$20
Anonymous
1 month ago
2
2
$50
Duncan Wilcox
1 month ago
2
2
$8
Anonymous
1 month ago
2
2
$20
Justin Brown
1 month ago
2
2
BM
$12
Brad Pendleton Mitchell
1 month ago(Offline Donation)
2
2
MK
$122
Mick Kolassa
1 month ago
1
1

Bo needs more respect!

GR
$25
George Ramphrey
1 month ago(Offline Donation)
1
1
$75
Anonymous
1 month ago(Offline Donation)
2
2
$10
Anonymous
1 month ago
3
3
AW
$20
Alan Williams
1 month ago
5
5

It's heartbreaking that this even has to be done for a Blues and American music hero. But it's an honor to be able to contribute!

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