Greetings from Sunny Southern Productions and the Eugene Powell Project

Eugene Powell

The one and only Eugene Powell. Photo by John Keen. All rights reserved.

What We Do

Sunny Southern Productions was founded in 2009 to preserve the history of the blues. We research, write and publish authentic biographies of blues artists from the distant past. We also turn these notables tales into screenplays and showcase the remarkable resilience of our musical forefathers, who against all odds persevered despite the caste system of the Deep South.

Our mission is to honor these blues musicians and vocalists who were never properly credited for their influence on American music, which sprung from plantation spirituals and influenced rock-n-roll as we know it today.

Learn more about our mission and vision here.

The Eugene Powell Project

Both the Eugene Powell biography and the Mississippi Matilda biography are the first of their kind and never before written — a cultural and musical milestone in blues history.

Eugene traveled the Mississippi riverside more than any other Delta blues forefather and adapted the most important music traditions throughout the Delta between Memphis and New Orleans. His sophisticated fingerpicking techniques were unbeatable in American music’s greatest place and time. He grew up with the Chatmon family and became a member of their string band — the first family of the blues and the most recorded black artists of the 1930s, better known as the Mississippi Sheiks.

Matilda Witherspoon, a.k.a. Mississippi Matilda, met Eugene as she sang in the Florida Orange Blossom Minstrels show. He loved the way she sang, introduced himself, and eventually proposed. Together, they recorded in the famous 1936 Bluebird session at the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans. Matilda and Eugene became partners at home, in the cotton fields, and on stage.

A third book in the Riverside Blues Series is slated for publication in the fall of 2019 and includes Eugene and Matilda’s remarkable affiliations with the most influential blues musicians of their day. These largely untold tales deserve a place in literature as culturally and musically remarkable contributions to American history.

Richard “Hacksaw” Harney, Ernest “44” Johnson, Little Brother Montgomery, Robert Hill, Bo Chatmon (a.k.a. Bo Chatmon), the Chatmon Brothers, and the Mississippi Sheiks are among the impressive talent who performed with Eugene and Matilda.

The books in The Riverside Blues Series share never-before-told stories, never-before-seen photos, rare images, and historical research from notable contributors:

• The Library of Congress
• The Mississippi Department of Archives & History
• The Smithsonian Institution (photography by Diana Davies)
• Former New York Times White House photographer D. Gorton
• Renowned photographer John Keen
• Curator of rare records, John Tefteller
• Preeminent Researcher of Black History, Jan Hillegas

NOTE: Our use of all photos in the Riverside Blues Series, including those provided by the Powell family, have been authorized through proper channels for inclusion in our copyrighted material including books, websites, and social media platforms. Third parties do NOT have authorization or permission to use these photos in any manner whatsoever.

Book One

The Original Rolling Stone
The Travelin’ Riverside Blues of Eugene Powell

Eugene Powell

The one and only biography on Eugene Powell by Brian O’Connor and Melanie Saxton. Photo credit: John Keen. All rights reserved.

We have compiled a tribute to Eugene Powell — not an academic book or a clinical view of his life, but a deep, rich love story. We are fans of the travelin’ riverside bluesman and write from that perspective. Brian O’Connor was Eugene’s last manager and provides a very personal account of his relationship with the Powell family.

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Book Two

The Life and Legend of Mississippi Matilda
Iconic Blues Songstress of the Delta

Eugene Powell

The one and only biography on Mississippi Matilda. Photo courtesy of Carrie Powell. All rights reserved.

Our tribute to Mississippi Matilda is a nothing short of a love story as well. What a profound journey she led in the cotton fields and on stage. Hardship, exploitation, illness and grinding poverty did not stop this wonderful vocalist from praising Jesus and raising her children in the faith. Her daughter Carrie Powell and interviews with the family reveal a very personal, raw and transcendent account of Matilda’s life.

COMING SOON

Book Three — COMING SOON!

America’s Unbeatable Musicians
The Original Masters of the Mississippi Riverside Blues

Eugene Powell

Featuring Eugene Powell, Mississippi Matilda, Hacksaw Harney, Ernest “44” Johnson, Little Brother Montgomery, Robert Hill, Robert Nighthawk, the Chatmon Brothers, the Mississippi Sheiks, and many other blues artists. Photo credit: Diana Davies (with permission from the Smithsonian). All rights reserved.

Our third installment of the Riverside Blues Series is another tribute to blues artists who deserve credit for changing the landscape of American music. Eugene Powell and Mississippi Matilda collaborated with some of most talented musicians on the Blue Front in Hollandale and along the riverside. This book is slated for publication in the fall of 2019.

COMING SOON

 

Contact us for additional information on Eugene Powell, Mississippi Matilda, and their playing partners.

If you have documents and a backstory on a blues artist and would like to contribute to future projects, please email info@SunnySouthernProductions to learn more.