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Young Musicians in Houston Carry on Blues Tradition

Young Musicians in Houston Carry on Blues Traditioni
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November 01, 2013
The American musical genre known as the blues emerged in the early part of the 20th century out of African- American communities in the deep South -- places like Memphis, Tennessee, The Mississippi River Delta and the fields of east Texas. Many young people are rediscovering the blues, and some are even becoming master players. VOA's Greg Flakus profiles two such artists making their mark on the Texas blues scene in this report from Houston.
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Greg Flakus
— The American musical genre known as the blues emerged in the early part of the 20th century out of African- American communities in the deep South - places like Memphis, Tennessee, The Mississippi River Delta and the fields of east Texas.  Many young people are rediscovering the blues, and some are even becoming master players.
 
One of the most popular young blues artists in Houston is Josh Davidson, known as The Mighty Orq.  He views this American-born music as a national treasure.

"It is awesome, man. It is something to be celebrated and enjoyed," said  Davidson.

He has learned the styles of famous blues singers like BB King, Muddy Waters, and the city's most celebrated blues man, the late Sam “Lightnin' Hopkins - the icon of the Houston Blues Society.

"Born in Houston, where the blues fall down like rain, Lightnin' Hopkins up on Dowling, Albert Collins down on Main," he sings.

"I think the real magic of blues music is that it speaks to everyone. I mean it just speaks to the humanity of everybody," he said.

That's because the blues flows from deep human emotions, according to another of Houston's popular young blues artists, Annika Chambers.

"It takes over you. It can take over in different ways, so the blues is something you just feel deep down in your soul," said Chambers.

Annika Chambers puts her whole body and soul into each performance.

She began her journey singing gospel music in Houston and was introduced to the blues while she was serving in the U.S. Army in Kosovo.

Although the blues started as a strictly black musical form and was once termed “race music,” Chambers says her band members and audience reflect how things have changed.

“Music is universal, so it brings us all together at some point, whether it is black or white. I play a lot of shows and I get a mixed crowd at all of my shows," she said.

Annika Chambers, who experiments with hair styles and dress as much as music, likes to hang out with other Houston blues songsters, including The Mighty Orq.

Both of them praise Houston's supportive blues community, consisting of musicians, fans, radio program hosts and club owners who frequently stage blues concerts.

“There is just a sense of community and camaraderie that is really wonderful, you know, and then you have venues in different parts of the city that are sort of hubs for the community and the musicians," said The Mighty Orq.

Both the Mighty Orq and Annika Chambers have recorded CDs that are helping to spread the news about Houston's rich blues heritage.

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