Skip James The Most Influential Bluesman


Nehemiah Curtis “Skip” James’s music earned his reputation as one of the influential early Mississippi bluesmen. Born in 1902 and raised in Bentonia, Nehemiah Curtis James was brought up in a religious family: his father was a Baptist minister. Jame grew up in Woodbine Plantation and learned to play piano and guitar. Skip learned piano in school but picked up the guitar from a good friend named Henry Stuckey.  

Music Style

His style of music is the American Delta Blues. Skip’s musical skills shined through his voice, guitar, and piano. Skip also was known for his composing skills, which made him a decent living. He played guitar in a dark, minor-key sound with an intricate fingerpicking technique. As well, his funky piano playing and rippling guitar riffs on these early recordings show a musician in a confident mood, but poor sales popped his bubble and led to Skip giving up the Blues altogether.

After Music


By 1932 Skip was ordained as a Baptist minister, and he had moved to Dallas, where he formed the Dallas Texas Jubilee Singers to back his father’s preaching. After much traveling around the South on religion


Conclusion: Blues influencer

James influenced the blues, but he made very little money due to poor sales during the Depression. During a music session at Paramount Records in 1931, he recorded Devil Got My Woman, Cherry Ball Blues, 22-20 Blues, Hard Time Killing Floor Blues, and I’m So Glad. These became some of his most influential works, inspiring covers or reworkings from prewar blues artists such as Robert Johnson, Joe McCoy, and Johnnie Temple and in the rock era from Eric Clapton and Cream. They transformed I was So Glad into a blues-rock anthem in 1966. James spent most of his life working as a laborer, minister, and off and on as a blues player or gospel singer. James returned to Bentonia, and sparked him to start performing again during the blues revival of the 1960s.  James died on Oct. 3, 1969.  James achieved only limited fame, and no fortune, from his music, but is now known as one of the most influential bluesmen in history. 

What's your password?

Login to your account

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.