“I would say, over and over, the closest you get to Africa in America is Mississippi.”
Sitting on an oaken barrel, Vasti Jackson waxes poetically on the birthplace of the blues, the Mississippi Delta. For the past few weeks, Jackson and the rest of the cast of New Stage Theatre’s production of Marcus Gardley’s Hell in High Water have been wading into the murky depths of one of the greatest tragedys to hit Mississippi: The Great Flood of 1927.
In addition to being part of the ensemble, Vasti wrote music for the play. This should come as no surprise for anyone familiar with his work.
Vasti Jackson has been a professional musician for over forty years. He got his start playing in both churches and juke joints around McComb, MS, a dichotomy between the sacred and the secular that has accompanied him his entire career. He has played with a Who’s Who of Blues and Gospel greats, from Little Milton and Bobby Bland to the Jackson Southernaires and Daryl Coley. His recent album The Soul of Jimmy Rodgers won the Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album.
Hell in High Water, A play with music that follows the social, economic and political realities of an entire city subjected to the powerful will of the Mississippi River, plays through Sunday, February 10. For ticket information go to or call 601-948-3531.
Be on the lookout for part two of Walt Grayson’s interview with Vasti!