Highlight denotes Black author or source | Highly recommended ︎


Delta blues, Chicago blues,  vaudeville, boogie-woogie, rhythm & blues.
Origins: Late 19th century to mid-20th century.


  • Blues People: Negro Music in White America  by Amiri Baraka (as LeRoi Jones), 1963. ︎

  • Big Bill Blues by Big Bill Broonzy, 1964. ︎

  • Charley Patton by John Fahey, 1970.

  • Feel Like Going Home: Portraits in Blues and Rock 'n' Roll by Peter Guralnick, 1971.

  • Stomping the Blues by Albert Murray, 1976. ︎

  • Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta by Robert Palmer, 1982.

  • Mother of the Blues: A Study of Ma Rainey by Sandra R. Lieb, 1983.

  • "Sounds So Good to Me": The Bluesman's Story by Barry Lee Pearson, 1987.

  • Virginia Piedmont Blues: The Lives And Art Of Two Virginia Bluesmen by Barry Lee Pearson, 1990.

  • Woman with Guitar: Memphis Minnie's Blues by Paul Garon, 1992.

  • Just Before Jazz: Black Musical Theatre in New York, 1890-1915 by Thomas L. Riis, 1994.

  • Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday by Angela Davis, 1999.︎

  • Kind Of Blue: The Making Of The Miles Davis Masterpiece by Ashley Kahn, 2000.︎

  • Waltzing in the Dark: African American Vaudeville and Race Politics in the Swing Era by Brenda Dixon Gottschild, 2000.

  • Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues by Elijah Wald, 2001.

  • The Royalty of Negro Vaudeville: The Whitman Sisters and the Negotiation of Race, Gender and Class in African American Theater 1900-1940 by Nadine George-Graves, 2003.

  • Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919 by Tim Brooks, 2004.

  • Moanin' at Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin' Wolf by James Segrest and Mark Hoffman, 2004.

  • Lost Delta Found: Rediscovering the Fisk University-Library of Congress Coahoma County Study, 1941-1942 by John W. Work III, Lewis Wade Jones, Samuel C. Adams Jr., 2005.Lead Belly: A Life in Pictures by Tiny Robinson, 2007.

  • In Search of the Blues by Marybeth Hamilton, 2007.

  • Lead Belly: A Life in Pictures by Tiny Robinson, 2007.

  • Jelly's Blues: The Life, Music, And Redemption Of Jelly Roll Morton by Howard Reich, William M. Gaines, 2008.

  • Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music by Ted Gioia, 2008.

  • Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues by William R. Ferris, 2009.

  • The Blues: A Very Short Introduction by Elijah Wald, 2010. ︎

  • Preachin' The Blues: The Life & Times Of Son House by Daniel Beaumont, 2011.

  • Hidden History of Mississippi Blues by Roger Stolle, 2011.

  • Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters by Robert Gordon, 2014. ︎

  • Huey "Piano" Smith and the Rocking Pneumonia Blues by John Wirt, 2014.

  • Louisville Jug Music: From Earl McDonald to the National Jubilee by Michael L. Jones, 2014.

  • Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson by Bruce Conforth and Gayle Dean Wardlow, 2019.  ︎

  • The Blues Come to Texas: Paul Oliver and Mack McCormick's Unfinished Book, compiled by Alan B. Govenar, 2019.

  • Fictional Blues: Narrative Self-Invention from Bessie Smith to Jack White by Kimberly Mack, 2020.

  • I Don't Like the Blues: Race, Place, and the Backbeat of Black Life by B. Brian Foster, 2020.


  • 'Hellhound On My Trail' on Robert Johnson by Peter Breslow for NPR’s All Things Considered, June 2000, 12 minutes.

  • The Vanishing of Harry Pace” (on Black Swan Records), produced in collaboration with Kiese Laymon, Imani Perry, Cord Jefferson and Terrance McKnight for WNYC's Radiolab. June 2021 - Present.


  • The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie” by John Jeremiah Sullivan, NYTimes, April 2014. ︎
    • This one is especially amazing as an interactive piece of journalism!


  • Scott Joplin, dir. Jeremy Kagan, 1977. 1h 36m. ︎

  • The Search for Robert Johnson, dir. Chris Hunt, 1991. 1h 12m. 

  • The Soul of a Man, dir. Wim Wenders, 2003. 1h 43m.

  • The Road to Memphis, dir. Richard Pearce, 2003. 1h 59m.

  • Warming by the Devil's Fire, dir. Charles Burnett, 2003. 1h 46m.

  • Godfathers and Sons, dir. Marc Levin, 2003. 2h 13m.

  • Red, White And Blues, dir. Mike Figgis, 2003. 1h 33m.