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UM Alum Publishes Book on Southern Music

photo courtesy of James Dickerson
photo courtesy of James Dickerson

University of Mississippi 1968 alum James L. Dickerson recently added one more book to his 30-books authorship: Mojo Triangle: Birthplace of Country, Blues, Jazz and Rock ‘n’ Roll.

A cursory look at Dickerson’s career reveals a storied life. He has worked as a staff writer for The Clarion-Ledger and Jackson Daily News as well as the Greenwood Commonwealth, Delta Democrat-Times and The Commercial Appeal. He is currently the publisher and editor of Sartoris Literary Group in Jackson, Mississippi. He has played keyboards and sax in the early 60s in The Dynamics, Strokers and Road Runners. He also co-owned a radio syndication that featured country and blues, two musical influences that he later wrote about in his recent publication.

With a past history in music and writing, the book is a combination of Dickerson’s best interests. The author coined the book’s title as a term: Mojo Triangle, meaning the area between New Orleans, Nashville and Memphis is the birthplace of American music.

“So much of what has been written about the music of the South is untrue,” said Dickerson. “I wanted to set the record straight and put the development of music in perspective. The Mojo Triangle is a land area in which all of America’s original roots music was created; country, blues, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll. How did this music come about? What is there about Mojo Triangle that has contributed to the creation of so much original music?”

Dickerson delves into Southern musical history in countless interviews with music legends such as Al Green, Ike Turner and Johnny Cash and B.B. King and Stevie Ray and so the list goes on and on. From numerous interviews with many notables he traced the development of music to Natchez, Mississippi in 1800s where Native Americans had an influential hand in the blues.

The book has pictures, some never seen before taken by the author himself.

Dickerson has connections to the Mojo Triangle and music itself. He grew up in the Mississippi Delta in the 50s listening to Sam Chatmon of Mississippi Shieks play his guitar on a street corner. He was also the first writer to interview Bobbie Gentry about her song, “Ode to Billie Joe,” that became a Grammys’ Song of the Year in 1967. When the Library of Congress chose Elvis Presley’s Memphis Sun Records sessions, Dickerson was asked to write an essay to accompany the archived records.

This book has admittedly printed before in 2005 in hardcover but it was poorly published. The pictures were too small and there were no print or e-book versions. However the quality of Dickerson’s writing shone through. Independent Publishers Association named the book the best non-fiction work in the South in 2006. Now the book is re-published with an eBook edition available.

Callie Daniels is a staff writer for HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.

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