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Blind Roosevelt Graves and Brother

Identifier: M526

Scope and Contents

One compact disk and two cassette tapes featuring the recorded works of Mississippi musicians Blind Roosevelt Graves and his brother, Uaroy Graves. The collection also includes the book Mississippi Studies: Emergence of Modern Mississippi" (Brandon, MS: Magnolia Publishing Company, 1995), autographed by contributing author Dr. Joseph B. Parker. Information about the Graves Brothers is located on pages 345–346.


  • Creation: 1929-1936
  • Creation: 1995


Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; available for research.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical / Historical

In 1909, Roosevelt Graves, a blues musician, was born in Rose Hill, Mississippi. His brother, Uaroy Graves, was born circa 1912. He and his brother were both blind musicians. Roosevelt sang and played the guitar, and Uaroy played the tambourine.

In Mississippi during the 1920s and 1930s, “rocking and reeling” became a new style of church music. The Grave brothers along with pianist Cooney Vaughan formed The Mississippi Jook Band. In 1929, they would record a rocking and reeling song for Paramount Recording Company.

In 1936, the band recorded two songs through American Record Company entitled “Barbecue Bust” and “Dangerous Woman.” Both of these songs were recorded in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. According to Mississippi Studies: Emergence of Modern Mississippi, “Some historians of rock credit the Mississippi Jook Band with producing the first authentic rock ‘n’ roll records ("Mississippi Studies", page 346). Because of this, Hattiesburg is known as the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll.

After the recordings of these two famous songs and others, the Graves brothers and the band did not perform again. It is believed that after the Second World War that Roosevelt moved to Gulfport, Mississippi. Roosevelt Graves passed away on December 30, 1962, and Uaroy Graves passed away circa 1959.


.25 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



The collection contains one CD, two cassette tapes, and one hardback book.


The collection is arranged in chronological order.


Dr. Ed Wheat and Purchase from Arhoolie Records

Related Materials

M8 Thompson (Ray M.) Papers

Press Release


Have you ever wondered why a local radio station signs on by saying, "Coming to you from Hattiesburg, the birth place of rock and roll. Look it up."? One reason may be that in the book "The Illustrated History of Rock and Roll", published by "Rolling Stone" magazine, two songs recorded in Hattiesburg in 1936 by native Mississippi musicians are identified as possibly the earliest rock and roll recordings.

The two songs are "Barbecue Bust" and "Dangerous Woman." They were recorded in Hattiesburg in 1936 by the Mississippi Jook Band, consisting of the legendary Blind Roosevelt Graves singing vocals and playing guitar and his brother Uaroy Graves on tambourine and kazoo. They were joined for the recording session by one of Mississippi's most influential musicians, Cooney Vaughn, who played piano.

According to the "Rolling Stone" history, "The Graves brothers of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, who recorded 'rocking and reeling' spirituals for Paramount in 1929, made several blues records as the Mississippi Jook Band in 1936. Their 'Barbecue Bust' and 'Dangerous Woman' featured fully formed rock & roll guitar riffs and a stomping rock & roll beat."

Roosevelt Graves was born in Rose Hill near Meridian. After World War II, Graves moved to Gulfport, where he is said to have died in 1960. Piano player Cooney Vaughn performed weekly on radio station WCOC in Meridian prior to World War II.

In 1936 Paramount Records talent scout and Jackson furniture store owner H.C. Speir located the Graves Brothers, whom he had recorded in Indiana in 1929, performing in a church in McComb and arranged for them to do a second recording session in Hattiesburg.

To play piano in the Hattiesburg session, Speir chose Cooney Vaughn, described by Ed Komara, archivist in the Blues Archives at the University of Mississippi, as an influential live performer in Hattiesburg, where musicians from the Delta and New Orleans on their way by train to a gig would stop over in The Hub City to hear Vaughn play.

The combination of Vaughn's uninhibited piano style with the religious feeling and musical versatility of the Graves Brothers resulted in a the beginnings of a new type of music -- rock and roll.

The USM Archives has recently acquired a re-release on cd of the complete recorded works of Blind Roosevelt Graves, including "Barbecue Bust," "Dangerous Woman," and 19 others. The cd was produced by Document Records, an Austrian company engaged in documenting the history of American blues, gospel, bluegrass, and ragtime music.

The Document cd includes songs from both of the Graves Brothers' 1929 and 1936 recording sessions and enables the listener to experience again the music of a black country band in the jook joints of Mississippi during the twenties and thirties.

Blind Roosevelt Graves and Brother
Collection processed and finding aid written by Shawna Guidry
November 2, 2018
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Repository Details

Part of the Historical Manuscripts and Photographs Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001