Mississippi Blues Trail Honors Ocean Springs Blues

Ocean Springs, Mississippi — October 20, 2017 — The Mississippi Blues Commission has honored the contributions of musicians, including Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jaimoe, with the Ocean Springs Blues marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail.

“Ocean Springs has earned a reputation as a live-music destination, from festivals to the entertainment venues downtown,” said Visit Mississippi Director Craig Ray. “This marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail honors the city’s embrace of live music as well as the legacies of its famous sons and daughters, whose musical accomplishments point back to their home and inspiration in Mississippi.”

Jai Jonie Johnson, known to music fans worldwide as Jaimoe, was born in Ocean Springs in 1944 and raised in Gulfport. Jaimoe toured with R&B icons Otis Redding and Percy Sledge in the 1960s before joining the Allman Brothers Band, which combined blues, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll styles of music. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 as a member of the Allman Brothers Band, and honored with the 2017 Governor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Music in his home state.

Henry “Hank” Donahue was a popular singer, songwriter, bandleader, guitarist and keyboardist on the Mississippi Gulf Coast circuit during the 1960s, spreading blues music and influencing a new generation of musicians. Donahue, who began composing and copyrighting songs as early as 1959, released several collections of music on Treble Records.

Pianist and music instructor Tempy Smith led a jazz band in Ocean Springs with her children before relocating to New York City in the 1920s, where the group continued to develop. Her daughter Geraldine “Jeri” Smith performed on piano at Carnegie Hall, while her siblings Helen and Joe performed as dancers at the Apollo Theater and other venues.

The Ocean Springs Blues marker is located at 801 Washington Street at the intersection with Government Street in the heart of the downtown entertainment and shopping district. It is the 197th installment on the Mississippi Blues Trail.

The Mississippi Blues Trail was launched in 2006 by the Mississippi Blues Commission and commemorates the people, places and history of blues music, the American art form responsible for shaping modern popular music. For additional information, please visit www.msbluestrail.org.

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