‘Mississippi, My Home’

Songwriting, identity and everyday aesthetics in the African-American tradition


  • Josep Pedro Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
  • Begoña Gutiérrez-Martínez Universidad Complutense de Madrid




songwriting, identity, everyday life, African-American culture, blues


This article focuses on the analysis of 'Mississippi, My Home', a blues composition byAfrican-American singer Lavelle White, which posits key issues about the meaningsof home, identity, and everyday aesthetics. Presented as a true story, the song dealswith the idea of returning home to Mississippi. It represents everyday life in a plantationthrough the bond between the narrator and her mother while picking cotton. Therefore,it introduces the listener to an aesthetic of everyday life that combined blues, work songs, and spirituals. Drawing on a personal interview with the artist, as well as on othersources, we will analyse the song as part of a broader interest in the musical discourseof blues. Exploring the song's text and context, the aim is to reach a complex understandingabout the ways in which biography and fiction intertwine with each other in thecreative act of songwriting and musical performance.

Author Biographies

Josep Pedro, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Josep Pedro is Postdoctoral Researcher at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid(UC3M). He is a member of the research group Audiovisual Diversity (UC3M), and hecollaborates with the group Semiotics, Communication and Culture (UCM). He has beena Visiting Scholar at the University of Texas at Austin, and at Birmingham City University.He has published articles in journals such as Atlantic Studies, Signa and IASPM Journal,and has written chapters in the volumes Talking Back to Globalization, Jazz and Totalitarianism,and The Cambridge Companion to the Singer-Songwriter.

Begoña Gutiérrez-Martínez, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Begoña Gutiérrez-Martínez is a member of the research group Analysis of theAudiovisual Text, Theoretical and Methodological Developments at Universidad Complutensede Madrid (UCM, Spain). She has been a Visiting Scholar at the University ofTexas at Austin (Department of Radio-Television-Film). Her articles have been publishedin Revista Plop, Trama & Fondo, and in the volumes Current Audiovisual Creations, ¿Quées el cine? and Entender el Artivismo. As guest lecturer, she has taught Narrative Cinemaand Film Analysis (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos).


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How to Cite

Pedro, J., & Gutiérrez-Martínez, B. (2020). ‘Mississippi, My Home’: Songwriting, identity and everyday aesthetics in the African-American tradition. Jazz Research Journal, 13(1-2), 178–196. https://doi.org/10.1558/jazz.39374

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