A blues legend was memorialized Friday in Houston and Aberdeen as Booker T. Washington White was recognized with markers on the Mississippi Blues Trail.
White, commonly known as “Bukka,” was born about five miles south of Houston between the Sonora and Anchor communities in Chickasaw County.
Robin Mathis, who emceed the ceremony in Houston, brought along a voice recording of an interview he conducted with White during his return to Houston for the Bicentennial celebration in 1976.
“I’m glad to be here where I was bred and born,” White said in the recording. “I was raised five miles south of Houston on Mr. Willie Harrington’s farm.”
After White left this area, he began making a name for himself in blues music circles and made his first recording with Victor Records in 1930. He was best known for his recordings, “Shake ’Em on Down,” “Po’ Boy” and “Parchman Farm Blues.”
White’s daughter, Irene Kertchaval, greeted guests at the ceremony and spoke of how her father would have been proud to see the day.
“He had no way of knowing how his music would continue on,” Kertchaval said.
Kertchaval expressed her appreciation to the Chickasaw County Historical and Genealogical Society, James Clark, and members of the state Blues Commission for the ceremony to commemorate her father’s music.
A marker was unveiled Friday morning at the site of the proposed historical museum on Church Street across from Joe Brigance Park. One side commemorates White for his contributions to blues music while the opposite side recognizes other local musicians and artists like the Pilgrim Jubilees, the Delta Rhythm Boys, Willie Buck, Milan Williams, C.D. Dobbs, Bobbie Gentry and Aubrey Freeman, and WCPC radio.
White’s family also was on hand when the marker honoring White and two other blues greats, Howlin’ Wolf and Albert King, was unveiled in Aberdeen as part of the Mississippi Blues Trail, one of the state’s major tourist attractions.
A letter written by White’s cousin B.B. King was read to the audience on King’s behalf.
The unveiling was part of the Bukka White Blues Festival in Aberdeen.
Jeff Clark of the Monroe Journal contributed to this report.
Lisa Voyles/Chickasaw Journal