Contact Big Joe
Big Joe Shelton was born in the Black Prairie region
of Northeast Mississippi. As a child growing up in a small Mississippi
town he was exposed to an African-American culture, which still strongly
reflected that of the early part of the twentieth century. He attended
tent minstrel shows, bar-b-que picnics and heard street musicians performing
authentic traditional blues. The Black Belt region is also the birthplace
of blues legends Howlin’ Wolf, Bukka White and Big Joe Williams.
As a young man he was fortunate in befriending Williams and this association
greatly influenced his musical sensibilities.
As a child Big Joe sang in church and grammar school choirs. In his teens
he began playing the harmonica and guitar.
“The Older I Get the Better I Was” is his second release on
the independent ALT 45 RECORDS label. It was recorded at the B.B. King
Recording Studio on the campus of Mississippi Valley State University
at Itta Bena over the Summer of 2010. It includes ten original tracks
all conceived in the fertile imagination of this gifted songwriter.
“Black Prairie Blues”, his 2008 release, was a finalist in
the 2009 International Blues Challenge for the Best Self-Produced CD Award.
A song from that album, “Devil Lives in Memphis,” was nominated
for 2008 song of the year by Blues Critic Magazine reader’s poll.
The album was listed in the top ten on numerous national and international
blues radio charts including: Australia, The Netherlands, Spain, United
Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany, and the United States. It also received
extensive play on Sirus XM satellite radio’s B.B. King’s Bluesville
program. The CD garnered stellar reviews from national and international
blues music magazines including: Living Blues (US), Elmore Magazine (US),
Blues Matters (UK), Juke Blues (UK), and Blues Review (US).
Big Joe has performed at numerous festivals and clubs throughout the southeastern
United States including: King Biscuit Blues Festival, Howlin’ Wolf
Memorial Blues Festival, Freedom Creek Blues Festival and the Beal Street
Mess Around. He has also toured England, France, Belgium, Bulgaria and
He has played with blues legends Big Joe Williams, Furry Lewis, Son Thomas,
Junior Kimbrough, Fenton Robinson and BMA / Handy Award nominees Willie
King, Blind Mississippi Morris, R. L. Burnside and Johnny Rawls as well
as Daniel “Slick” Ballinger, the 2007 BMA Best New Artist
and 2009 Grammy nominee Elvin Bishop.
Shelton was awarded a 2010 Artist Fellowship from the Mississippi Arts
Commission and is a member of their “Artist Roster” (http://www.arts.state.ms.us/artist-roster/index.php)
as well as their “Mississippi Folk arts / Folklife Directory”
(http://www.arts.state.ms.us/special-projects/folklife.php). He was honored
in 2007 by being included on the “Columbus / Cat Fish Alley”
Mississippi Blues Trail Marker (http://www.msbluestrail.org/commission.html).
Among his contributions toward perpetuation of the blues is his involvement
with the Jazz Foundation of America, The Mississippi Arts Commission,
and the Howlin’ Wolf Blues Society “Blues in School”