Pensacola, Florida — January 18, 2019 — The Mississippi Blues Commission recognized the blues contributions of Pensacola, Florida, with the unveiling today of a Mississippi Blues Trail marker.
“Pensacola’s historic entertainment district of Blemont-DeVilliers played an integral role in encouraging the blues genre’s growth beyond Mississippi state lines to locations around the world,” said Visit Mississippi Director Craig Ray.
Pensacola, an important early center of blues, ragtime, vaudeville and jazz activity, developed into a regional cornerstone of the “chitlin’ circuit” in later years. Touring blues, jazz, rhythm & blues acts and local bands found a welcome base in the Belmont-DeVilliers African-American business and entertainment district for several decades. Mississippi-born performers such as B.B. King, Junior Parker and Sam Cooke contributed to the vibrant nightlife in the neighborhood’s theaters and clubs.
The marker also honors the work of those who fostered the growth of the blues through their commitment to the historic neighborhood, including Gussie Streeter of Gussie’s Record Shop and Abe Pierce Sr. of Abe’s 506 and Savoy Ballroom.
Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson, Escambia County Commissioner Lumon May and Belmot-DeVilliers Neighborhood Association’s Eddie Todd all attended to commemorate the Florida neighborhood’s contributions to the Mississippi blues.
The marker is located at the intersection of Belmont and DeVilliers streets at Five Sisters Blues Café, the former site of Gussie’s Record Shop. The marker is the 203rd installment on the Mississippi Blues Trail.
Launched in 2006 by the Mississippi Blues Commission, the Mississippi Blues Trail commemorates the people, places and history of blues music, the American art form responsible for shaping modern popular music. The free Mississippi Blues Trail app is available now for iOS and Android devices. For additional information, please visit msbluestrail.org.