Mississippi is recognized as the “Birthplace of America’s music,” and the National Park Service has proclaimed that, “Much of what is profoundly American – what people love about America – has come from the Delta, which is often called ‘the cradle of American culture.” Cleveland, Mississippi, is considered the ‘crossroads of culture’ in this unique, authentic, mystical, and multi-ethnic region of our country. Cleveland is a farming town – an arts town – a college town – a music town, and with music as the universal language, our goal is to build on the culture of the blues and the birth of the American sound by celebrating and promoting roots music to our local community and visitors here in the heart of the Americana Music Triangle.
The Deep Roots music project showcases American roots music through live and recorded performances from a selected roster of local musicians. Additional roots music artists from the area will make guest appearances as the Deep Roots project develops. Deep Roots artists have also been featured on the Delta Roots Radio Hour, a weekly radio show sponsored by the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area in partnership with community radio station WDSW. The show is currently preparing for another series of in-studio performances, interviews, and curated playlists of the best in regional and national roots music.
American roots music is described as a combination of musical styles which incorporates early music genres and traditions of indigenous groups with ‘shared roots,’ heavily influenced by both the culture and sound of the blues. American roots music grew from the “folk” music made by whites of European descent in the early 20th century, mostly of meager means and living in the rural, isolated South, then expanded to include the song styles of other cultures, particularly the blues and gospel music of African-American southerners. While it encompasses a broad range of music genres and styles, roots music now includes those genres which were given birth in the Mississippi Delta and the American South: blues, folk, gospel, traditional country, zydeco, R&B/soul, bluegrass, and singer/songwriter styles. Often marginalized on commercial radio, roots music contains a common thread that draws on the lived experience of ordinary men and women and has served as a vehicle for offering the disenfranchised a voice.
Find your groove in our creative community as we cultivate and celebrate our current ‘crop’ of musicians and tend to the roots of our musical heritage. Come put down your Deep Roots in Cleveland, Mississippi.
Music from the Ground Up
Music From The Ground Up is a locally produced music video series featuring local Delta musicians affiliated with the Deep Roots music project. The series premiered in February 2021 as a result of a ‘creative pivot’ during the global pandemic. The series is housed on the Deep Roots website (www.deltadeeproots.com) and YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/deeproots) and offers individual episodes, featuring a single song performance of roots music along with a brief conversation with one of eleven musicians and bands highlighted in the series. Local artists featured in the Music From The Ground Up series include The Cuz Band, Peyton Aldridge, Tricia Walker, Gran Boiz, Jimi’s People, Jeff McCreary, Variety, Betzenzo, Keith Johnson, Delta String Band, and Craig Adams. Music From The Ground Up is part of the Deep Roots music initiative, a partnership between Big Front Porch Productions and the City of Cleveland.
The Mississippi Delta is a mindset. The Delta is a land that was virgin wilderness and swamp at the turn of the twentieth century, dominated by politically powerful gentleman planters, peopled by Black sharecroppers, Italian immigrants, Chinese, Lebanese and Jewish merchants. It is the home of the blues, gospel, soul food, and the civil rights movement. It is where Elvis Presley learned to dance and sing and drive a pink Cadillac. It is the land where Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson wrote the lyrics that eventually made the Rolling Stones, John Mayall and Eric Clapton music legends. In the heart of the Delta lies the town of Cleveland, which began its formation in 1869 on the Louisville, New Orleans & Texas railroad line. The Mississippi Delta is a fantastic place, where the history of the area is still prevalent and visible in the world today. Cleveland and Bolivar County are prime examples of how the rich heritage of an area can shape and form a place to make it not only interesting and educational, but inspiring as well. Welcome, y’all!