Book Review ‘Bobby Rush: I Ain’t Studdin’ Ya My American Blues Story’

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By Brinda Fuller Willis, PhD
Jackson Advocate Contributing Editor

The fans of Bobby Rush, a living Blues legend, can now hear the story straight from the horse’s mouth in a recently released co-penned autobiography I Ain’t Studdin’ Ya…My American Blues Story.

Bobby Rush, along with music historian and composer Herb Powell, wrote an in-depth, behind-the-scenes eyewitness account of the life and times of the Bluesman known to fans, musicians, and the music industry as the “King of the Chittlin Circuit.” If you have ever held a conversation with Bobby Rush, you left with at least one or two stories about his life as a preacher’s kid turned Blues singer. The book is dedicated to Bobby’s deceased children, Valerie, Donell, and Sherry.

This book is a long conversation filled with Bobby’s personal account of his life stories and lessons he learned that have taken him from the cotton fields of Mississippi and Arkansas to the stages of national and international festivals, night clubs, theaters, road houses, jook joints, and jook houses that would be akin to a popup shop/party in today’s lingo. He has graced stages in far away places that include China, Australia, and the White House and has appeared in movies like “Dolemite Is My Name” where he played himself, no script required…lol.

The hardcover book has a current picture of the handsome 86-year-old man that is untouched by Photoshop techniques. Rush dons his famous jheri curl, his harp, and a trademark smile that is as familiar to his fans as his closest friends and family.

This writer views the title of the book, I Ain’t Studdin’ Ya…My American Blues Story as a subtle and ingeniously arranged metaphor of Bobby Rush’s life, not just the title of one of his biggest hits released to date. Bobby tells his story in a conversational tone that is summed up in three parts and 290 pages with a 15-page index that references people, places, and things like a Rabbit’s Foot Minstrels Show and advice he received from fellow musicians like James Brown, Muddy Waters, Big Joe Turner, Rufus Thomas, and Ray Charles.

I Ain’t Studdin’ Ya…My American Blues Story reads like the raw and mostly uncut version of how Emmett Ellis, Jr. became Bobby Rush, who hails from Homer, Louisiana then Chicago to his adopted home state of Mississippi.

Bobby will be appearing at major bookstore outlets on a national level with smaller intimate venues where the book can be purchased sometimes with his personal autograph. Look for him at Lemuria Bookstore/Lemuria.com on August 4, 2021; Mississippi Public Broadcasting Radio “Now You’re Talking with Marshall Ramsey” on August 4, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.; History Is Lunch at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum on August 11, 2021; and the Mississippi Book Festival on August 21, 2021.

For additional information: www.bobbyrushbluesman.com, @BobbyRushBlues, Facebook: BobbyRushBluesman, and Instagram: @BobbyRushBluesman.