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‘Soul Man Lee’ leaves behind blues legacy

Published 12:11am Saturday, October 12, 2013

NATCHEZ The sounds of Soul Man Lee are now left completely to his recordings.

Natchez native Jimmy Anderson, 78, known to blues fans across the globe as Soul Man Lee, died Oct. 5 at Natchez Community Hospital.

Anderson’s harmonica-infused blues performances were common to juke joint crowds in the South and music fans in Europe.

Anderson’s sister, Linda McMurty, said her brother was an amazing person and musician.

Anderson
Anderson

“He could play that harmonica like no one you have ever heard,” McMurty said. “I listened to all of his recordings. He loved to share his recordings. He would make CDs and DVDs of his trips to Europe, and he would just give them to his friends and family.”

Anderson returned to Natchez in 1969 after living the life of a Baton Rouge blues man. He also toured Austria, Holland, Italy and England during different stages of his career. He spent time locally working at radio stations WNAT, WZZB and KVLA.

McMurty said her brother recorded some blues albums but did so when artists did not get the royalties they are accustomed to today.

“He wanted you to just sit down and listen to his music,” she said. “He would pull out one of his old records or a CD he made from his records. He would nod his head and smile because it meant so much to him. I even let some of my friends listen to some of his CDs, and they would ask me if he could make one for them.”

A historical marker in Natchez commemorates Papa Lightfoot & The Natchez Blues, while also mentioning other local blues musicians, including Anderson.

Adams County Justice Court Judge Mary Lee Toles of Natchez interviewed Anderson six weeks ago for a civil rights project. She described him as a person with a strong sense of self confidence.

“He really loved the blues,” Toles said. “He emulated B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf. He had his own sound, though, because he had a little whine in his voice.

“People all over Natchez, southwest Mississippi and the South enjoyed his music. When Europeans started to follow the blues, he was approached.”

Toles said she really enjoyed Anderson’s recording “Live in Vienna,” which he gave to her after a trip to Austria.

“He will be missed, because people in this area liked him and liked his sound, especially people who like the blues,” Toles said. “He was an interesting person. Once the white community latched onto the blues, they really loved him and his music.”

In 1997, Anderson suffered a stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body, but it did not stop him. He performed nine years later at the 2006 Great Mississippi River Balloon Race.