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AmericaShotStoryBlues and photography; Music Makers by Jimmy Williams

Jimmy Williams is a fine art and assignment photographer based in Raleigh, NC. He studied visual design at North Carolina State University, and shortly thereafter, opened an independent studio where he established himself as a successful and award-winning assignment photographer.

“Before I lift my camera, I always open myself up to the moment and trust my emotions to dictate and inspire a compelling story. Whether I’m shooting a portrait or a landscape, my purpose always remains the same: to establish a connection with the subject and to produce utterly “real” moments.

Jimmy Williams is a fine art and assignment photographer based in Raleigh, NC. He studied visual design at North Carolina State University, and shortly thereafter, opened an independent studio where he established himself as a successful and award-winning assignment photographer. Now, more than thirty years later, Williams devotes much of his time to personal photography endeavors, nurturing and maturing his photography into significant bodies of work. Three of Williams’ series, “Tuscany”, “Music Makers” and “Our Waters” have been showcased in solo exhibits, most recently at the Block Gallery in Raleigh, NC and The Contemporary Art Center of Virginia. His work has graced the walls of The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.; The Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado; The Eisner Museum in Wisconsin and the Gregg Museum of Art & Design in North Carolina. Williams’ is also  represented at the Waverly Artists Group in Cary, NC; John Cleary Gallery in Houston, TX, and Open Shutter Gallery in Durango, CO. Photography from his “Music Makers” series were also acquired by the City of Raleigh for its permanent collection.

Williams has been awarded an Excellence Award by Color Magazine; Merit of Excellence for Nature Photography at the Masters Cup Awards; Outstanding Achievement in Photography at the International Spider Awards; and 2nd place Deeper Perspective Photographer of the year at the Lucie Awards Gala at the Lincoln Center, NYC. Other recent accolades include: 1st place at Center’s Singular Image Awards, Fine Art Photographer of the Year at The International Spider Awards in 2004, and editorial features in The New York Times Lens, Lenswork, Rangefinder, Photo District News, B&W, Color, Communication Arts, and Graphis magazine.

Drink Small Whistlin' Britches Sweet Betty Pauline Goins Pat "Mother Blues" Cohen Pat "Mother Blues" Cohen II

Music Makers Series

Music Makers is an ongoing series that pays tribute to the faithful disciples of Southern musical traditions. Music, the blues in particular, has always been an interest in my personal and professional life. I’m particularly captivated by the souls who have a commitment to Southern musical practices as a means of self-expression, historical preservation and in the case of many of the Music Makers artists, as an honest means of survival.

 In 2004, I photographed “James.”  During the photoshoot, this quiet elderly African American man broke out in a simple blues rendition of the song Stardust… High up in the sky the little stars climb, always reminding me that we’re apart…, a favorite tune of his late wife. He was not a musician by trade, but his soulful interpretation of the melody overcame the shakiness of his pitch. James’ delivery was innate. The emotional connection created while taking this portrait stirred my desire to continue with a series. In early 2006, I discovered the Music Maker Relief Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting the true pioneers and forgotten heroes of Southern music. Struggling, and often penniless, these artists are given the opportunity and funding to preserve their musical legacy. I have been photographing these artists for 8 years, starting with those living in my native North Carolina.

These artists are the behind-the-scenes originals who have lived their lyrics –the chaos, the loneliness, the poverty, and most of all, the faith. Individually, the portraits capture each artist’s underlying personality and passion. As a collective, the series hums the narrative of a generation whose music helped define the grassroots South. As many of these artists push through their eighties, they continue to perform tirelessly at shows and on tour. When asked why, Captain Luke sums it up perfectly – “Because I can.”  Please visit www.JimmyWilliamsPhotography.com/musicmakers for a short audio-video of the series narrated by Jimmy Williams. [Official Website]

James "Bubba" Norwood III James Macavine Hayes Ironing Board Sam George Higgs Blues Harp Eddie Tigner Captain Luke Bishop Dready and Marie Manning Big Ron Hunter Beverly "Guitar" Watkins Albert White

John Dee Holeman

2 comments

  • Avatar
    Lucy Duffy

    Jan 16, 2014 at 16:39

    Great photos, capturing the spirit of the Music Makers.

  • Avatar
    janssens serge

    May 30, 2014 at 00:06

    Le berceau du blues ,cette musique raisonne au travers des très belles images de Jimmy Williams . Car là-bas ,toutes personnes venant au monde ,leurs premiers cris étaient déjà rythmé ! Serge

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