Eugene Powell a.k.a. Sonny Boy Nelson and America’s Unbeatable Musicians

Book Three in the Riverside Blues Series Features Sonny Boy Nelson, Mississippi Matilda, and their playing partners.

Sonny Boy Nelson

Eugene Powell a.k.a. Sonny Boy Nelson and Hacksaw Harney. Photo Credit: Diana Davies. Courtesy of the Smithsonian. All rights reserved.

Book Three

Work is now underway on Book Three — America’s Unbeatable Musicians: The Original Masters of the Mississippi Riverside Blues.

This third installment is slated for publication in the fall of 2019 and includes additional insights into the life of Mississippi Matilda, Sonny Boy Nelson, and their playing partners, including Richard Hill, Robert Nighthawk, Bo Carter Chatmon, Sam Chatmon, Harry Chatmon, the Mississippi Sheiks, Richard “Hacksaw” Harney, Willie Brother Harris, Ernest 44 Johnson, Little Brother Montgomery, and many more.

The writing and publishing of these books involves interviews, conversations and recollections from  children, friends and fans to ensure true first hand accounts.

It takes readers back in time to turn-of-the-century culture — WWI, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Flood of 1927, the Tupelo tornado, the Great Depression, WWII, Civil Rights, the Blues Resurgence and the golden years of several iconic musicians.



The Complete Series

Sonny Boy Nelson

Sonny Boy Nelson — the travelin’ riverside guitar man. Photo credit: John Keen. Courtesy of Brian O’Connor. All right reserved.

Book One

Eugene Powell, a.k.a. Sonny Boy Nelson, was quite a character.

We captured his traveling adventures, his role as a husband and father, and his friendships with other notable musicians in Book One — a biography completed twenty years after his death titled The Original Rolling Stone: The Travelin’ Riverside Blues of Eugene Powell.

This is the first biography ever published about Eugene Powell a.k.a. “Sonny Boy Nelson” and is filled with insights, both professional and personal. Rare photographs, never-before-shared interviews, and dramatic adventures fill the pages.



Sonny Boy Nelson

Photo courtesy of Carrie Powell. All rights reserved.

Book Two

The rich and raw details of Eugene’s biography inspired Book Two in the Riverside Blues Series, a biography of his wife Matilda. Her biography has never before been written — this is a milestone in blues history. Culturally and musically, Matilda’s story adds a dimension to the phrase Strong black woman.”

Hard Working Woman: The Life and Legend of Mississippi Matilda leads readers along Matilda’s rocky path through childhood abandonment and abuse, to her successful career as a songstress, and into the cotton fields in which she labored and raised her beloved children.

This inspirational wife and mother, married Eugene Powell until the early 1950s, was determined to keep a roof over their heads, despite a host of health concerns. She was bolstered by her strong Christian faith and the love of her family.


Help Us Preserve the Heritage of the Blues and Iconic Artists like Sonny Boy Nelson, Mississippi Matilda, and their Contemporaries

If you have a musical ancestor or know of a blues icon who contributed to the blues genre, please feel free to contact us. We consider the photos, records, music, instruments, documents and narratives of original blues artists for possible inclusion in future projects. Contributions by families, fans, historians and researchers can often help preserve the fast-fading history of the blues. You might also have supplemental stories about Sonny Boy Nelson or Mississippi Matilda — feel free to share those as well!

Email for more information.