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A Secret History of Memphis Hoodoo: Rootworkers, Conjurers & Spirituals

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Author Tony Kail traces Memphis's colorful Hoodoo heritage from the arrival of Africans in Shelby County to the growth of conjure culture in juke joints and Spiritual Churches.

Widely known for its musical influence, Beale Street was also once a hub for Hoodoo culture. Many blues icons, such as Big Memphis Ma Rainey and Sonny Boy Williamson, dabbled in the mysterious tradition. Its popularity in some African American communities throughout the past two centuries fueled racial tension - practitioners faced social stigma and blame for anything from natural disasters to violent crimes. However, necessity sometimes outweighed prejudice, and even those with the highest social status turned to Hoodoo for prosperity, love or retribution.

ISBN-13: 9781467137393

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC

Publication Date: 02-20-2017

Pages: 176

Product Dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Series: American Heritage

Tony Kail is an ethnographer and writer. He holds a degree in cultural anthropology and has researched magico-religious cultures for more than twenty-five years. His work has taken him from Voodoo ceremonies in New Orleans to Haitian Botanicas in Harlem and Spiritual Churches in East Africa. He has lectured at more than one hundred universities, hospitals and public safety agencies. Kail has been featured on CNN Online, the History Channel and numerous radio, television and print outlets. A resident of Humboldt, Tennessee, Kail was raised in Memphis and calls it his second home.

Table of Contents

Preface 7

Acknowledgements 9

Introduction 11

1 Diaspora 23

2 Hoodoo Culture 35

3 Conjure Life in Memphis 53

4 The Wizards of Beale Street 79

5 The War on Hoodoo 101

6 The Marketplace of Mojo 117

7 Sanctified Churches and Spiritual Temples 135

8 The Future 151

Bibliography 159

Index 167

About the Author 171