Interview with Johnny Rawls, Purvis, Mississippi

With a career spanning more than 50 years, Johnny Rawls is an internationally recognized recording artist, music producer, and songwriter who tours extensively throughout North America and overseas. The Blues Music Awards, Blues Blast Awards, Living Blues Awards, and the W. C. Handy Awards have all acknowledged Johnny with multiple awards and nominations, including Soul Blues Album of the Year and Soul Blues Artist of the Year. Living Blues Magazine described him as a “soul-blues renaissance man” when he was featured on the cover in 2002.  Johnny is mentioned on two markers along the Mississippi Blues Trail: one in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, marking the Hi-Hat Club, and another in Rocklin, Maine, marking the migration of blues from Mississippi to Maine. Born in Columbia, Mississippi, in 1951, Johnny grew up in Purvis (near Hattiesburg) and Gulfport. At age fifteen, Johnny’s high school band teacher asked Rawls to join his band as a saxophone player. Well into his career, in the mid-1970s, Johnny became the band director for soul singer O.V. Wright, and toured with O.V. until his death in 1980. Wright’s band, under Johnny’s leadership, continued to perform as the Ace of Spades band for several years. Johnny then became the band director for Little Johnny Taylor and in 1985, began touring as a solo artist and made his first solo recording. Rawls has released more than fifteen albums, and to date, ten of Johnny’s albums have been nominated for Soul Blues Album of the Year, with I’m Still Around winning in 2019. Johnny tours extensively throughout the US and internationally, playing approximately 200 dates every year.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 10/15/2020.

Interview with Damein Wash, Oxford, Mississippi

Hailing from Oxford, Mississippi, musician, composer and filmmaker Damein Wash has spent a lifetime pursuing music in the Southern gospel tradition. With the addition of classical training (a BM in Choral Music Education and an MM in Music Theory from the University of Mississippi), he is also well versed in choral, gospel, blues, jazz, rock, soul, and funk. Wash is the front man for the Oxford-based party band the Soul Tones. He is also a member of Three Grand, a trio of performers who perform across the United States and Canada, primarily for large corporate events. Wash’s recordings and original scores have made their way into Hallmark films and the long-time running daytime drama The Young and the Restless. Wash also arranged and conducted Deep South Gospel for the Moonshine Music Co., a Sony subsidiary, which was featured on STARZ’s American Gods and in USA Network’s Queen of the South.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 09/25/2020.