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Otha Turner biography

Otha Turner Born: June 2, 1907, Jackson, Mississippi

Died: February 26, 2003

Blues fife and drum musician Otha Turner grew up near the Mississippi Delta. Fife and drum music is a traditional genre that has its roots in the northern Mississippi hill country and is based on African-American work songs and spirituals. The fife is an instrument similar to the flute, often made out of bamboo. Turner worked as a farmer in Como, Mississippi, where he also led the Rising Star Fife and Drum band for sixty years. The band eventually made it to Chicago, where for years they opened the city’s legendary Blues Festival. While in his nineties, Turner preserved his historically significant music with the recordings Everybody’s Hollerin’ Goat and Senegal to Senatobia.

Essential listening: “Shimmy She Wobble,” “Granny Do Your Dog Bite,” “Shake ‘Em,” “Boogie,” “My Babe,” “Senegal to Senatobia,” “Sunu”

  Otha Turner