Interview with Johnny Rawls, Purvis, Mississippi

Copy the text below to embed this resource

Main contributor
Johnny Rawls
Johnny Rawls (Purvis, Mississippi)

With a career spanning more than 50 years, Johnny Rawls is an internationally recognized recording artist, music producer, and songwriter who tours extensively throughout North America and overseas. The Blues Music Awards, Blues Blast Awards, Living Blues Awards, and the W. C. Handy Awards have all acknowledged Johnny with multiple awards and nominations, including Soul Blues Album of the Year and Soul Blues Artist of the Year. Living Blues Magazine described him as a “soul-blues renaissance man” when he was featured on the cover in 2002.  Johnny is mentioned on two markers along the Mississippi Blues Trail: one in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, marking the Hi-Hat Club, and another in Rocklin, Maine, marking the migration of blues from Mississippi to Maine. Born in Columbia, Mississippi, in 1951, Johnny grew up in Purvis (near Hattiesburg) and Gulfport. At age fifteen, Johnny’s high school band teacher asked Rawls to join his band as a saxophone player. Well into his career, in the mid-1970s, Johnny became the band director for soul singer O.V. Wright, and toured with O.V. until his death in 1980. Wright’s band, under Johnny’s leadership, continued to perform as the Ace of Spades band for several years. Johnny then became the band director for Little Johnny Taylor and in 1985, began touring as a solo artist and made his first solo recording. Rawls has released more than fifteen albums, and to date, ten of Johnny’s albums have been nominated for Soul Blues Album of the Year, with I’m Still Around winning in 2019. Johnny tours extensively throughout the US and internationally, playing approximately 200 dates every year. 

Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 10/15/2020.
Holly Hobbs
Music; United States; Covid-19 Pandemic
Purvis, Mississippi
Musicians in America during the Covid-19 Pandemic
Society for Ethnomusicology

Access Restrictions

This item is accessible by: the public.