William Ferris in conversation with Scott Barretta / Voices of Mississippi

Fresh off winning two 2019 Grammys for his Voices of Mississippi box set, Bill Ferris returns to the Delta to talk with musicologist Scott Barretta about his life's work compiling folktales, songs, and art in Mississippi.

The watershed release of Voices of Mississippi represents Bill's lifelong commitment as an audio recordist, filmmaker, folklorist, and teacher with an unwavering commitment to establish and to expand the study of the American South.

William Ferris was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1942. Growing up on a working farm, Ferris began at a young age documenting the artwork, music, and lives of the people on the farm and in his local community.  The archive of recordings that he created and the documentary films that he had a hand in producing have served as powerful tools in institutions of higher learning for decades. 

This event begins with a small reception at 5:30 followed by a conversation between Bill and Scott. We'll show excerpts from Bill's films and samples of the music he collected. No purchase required, but browse a list of Bill's work below. Our events are free and open to all.

Event date: 
Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - 5:30pm
Event address: 
304 Howard Street
Greenwood, MS 38930

William Ferris

Special event with William Ferris: May 14 at 5:30pm.

2019 GRAMMY WINNER: BEST HISTORICAL ALBUM and BEST LINER NOTES

This watershed release represents the life’s work of William Ferris, an audio recordist, filmmaker, folklorist, and teacher with an unwavering commitment to establish and to expand the study of the American South.

William Ferris was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1942. Growing up on a working farm, Ferris began at a young age documenting the artwork, music, and lives of the people on the farm and in his local community.  The archive of recordings that he created and the documentary films that he had a hand in producing have served as powerful tools in institutions of higher learning for decades.

It is with great excitement that we present these films and recordings. Our hope is that the enjoyment and educational value that has been received by Ferris’s students over the years will be transmitted to listeners around the world and further the understanding of Southern culture.

  • Book edited by William Ferris
  • Essays by Scott Barretta, David Evans and Tom Rankin
  • Two CDs featuring Blues and Gospel recordings (1966-1978)
  • One CD featuring Interviews and Storytelling (1968-1994)
  • One DVD featuring Documentary Films (1972-1980)
  • Transcriptions for each track
  • Download/Streaming Code Included


William Ferris

Special event with William Ferris: May 14 at 5:30pm.

2019 GRAMMY WINNER: BEST HISTORICAL ALBUM and BEST LINER NOTES

This watershed release represents the life’s work of William Ferris, an audio recordist, filmmaker, folklorist, and teacher with an unwavering commitment to establish and to expand the study of the American South.

William Ferris was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1942. Growing up on a working farm, Ferris began at a young age documenting the artwork, music, and lives of the people on the farm and in his local community.  The archive of recordings that he created and the documentary films that he had a hand in producing have served as powerful tools in institutions of higher learning for decades.

This special edition vinyl LP encapsulates the life’s work of William Ferris — an audio recordist, filmmaker, folklorist, and teacher with an unwavering commitment to establish and to expand the study of the American South. All tracks are available on vinyl for the very first time.


William Ferris

Special event with William Ferris: May 14 at 5:30pm.

2019 GRAMMY WINNER: BEST HISTORICAL ALBUM and BEST LINER NOTES

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, folklorist William Ferris toured his home state of Mississippi, documenting the voices of African Americans as they spoke about and performed the diverse musical traditions that form the roots of the blues. This DVD features seven films made by Ferris between 1968 and 1975.

Films included: 
Black Delta, Part I (1968) (b/w) 
Black Delta, Part II (1968) (b/w) 
Parchman Penitentiary (1968) (b/w) 
Give My Poor Heart Ease: Mississippi Delta Bluesmen (1975) (color) 
I Ain't Lyin': Folktales from Mississippi (1975) (color) 
Made in Mississippi: Black Folk Art and Crafts (1975) (color) 
Two Black Churches (1975) (color)

In addition to being a groundbreaking documentarian of the American South, Ferris is Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History and senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ferris co-edited the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (1989) and is the author of multiple books. In 1991, Rolling Stone named him among the top ten professors in the United States. DVD in digipak; NTSC format and region free.


Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues (H. Eugene and Lillian Youngs Lehman) Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781469628875
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-2 Days
Published: University of North Carolina Press - February 15th, 2016

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, folklorist William Ferris toured his home state of Mississippi, documenting the voices of African Americans as they spoke about and performed the diverse musical traditions that form the authentic roots of the blues.


Blues From The Delta Cover Image
$16.50
ISBN: 9780306803277
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-2 Days
Published: Da Capo Press - August 22nd, 1988

William Ferris, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, has written a book as deep as the blues: rich in conversation, reference, history, and firsthand experience with blues musicians and the culture that informs the music.


The South in Color: A Visual Journal (H. Eugene and Lillian Youngs Lehman) Cover Image
By William Ferris, Tom Rankin (Foreword by)
$35.00
ISBN: 9781469629681
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-2 Days
Published: University of North Carolina Press - September 12th, 2016

Since the moment William Ferris's parents gave their twelve-year-old son a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera for Christmas in 1954, Ferris passionately began to photograph his world. He has never stopped. The sixties and seventies were a particularly significant period for Ferris as he became a pathbreaking documentarian of the American South.