Performing Arts

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Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters (1913-1983) was the professional name of McKinley Morganfield, a singer-songwriter in the Blues tradition.

He was born in the Mississipp Delta to Berta Grant and Ollie Morganfield. Berta died soon after McKinley was born and the boy was raised in kinship care with his grandmother, Della Grant, on the Stovall cotton plantation. Delta apparently nicknamed him "Muddy" because he liked playing the mud.

As a child, Muddy sang in church. He bought his first guitar when he was 17 and started playing locally. By his late 20s he was able to earn a partial income this way. Waters' first recording was done by a professor from Fisk University in Nashville. The young man then moved to Chicago, putting together a band and he was a national blues star during the 1950s. Then, during the 1960s, he began playing for a new audience of white people and rocks bands like the Rolling Stones made Muddy Waters' music known internationally.