Q&A with Southern Blues/Soul musician Ra’Shad The Blues Kid - keepin' the blues tradition alive as genuine

"Blues music is a genre of music that can genuinely bring all kinds of people together. Blues was born in the Southern states and grew beyond it. The music is continually enjoyed by people of all races and it's something that many can relate to."

Ra’Shad 'The Blues Kid': Original & Pure

Ra’Shad The Blues Kid is a Blues Musician and Artist from Mississippi. Ra’Shad was born September 30, 1987 as Larry Ra’Shad McGill in Laurel, MS. From an early age, he was recognized as a unique individual. His immediate family consist of 3 brothers and 1 sister. Ra’Shad is the youngest of this bunch. When Ra’Shad was born he had a few medical issues, he was born hearing-impaired and had a myriad of health issues from asthma to allergies. It was in church, that he first discovered a love of music from watching and observing the church guitarist and watching the keyboard players. The church guitarist, Billy Evans, would allow him to sit with him as he played. Ra’Shad father was a teacher and an avid Football coach; In Southern Mississippi, Football is a Friday night tradition. Ra’Shad grew up loving both music and football and though the path to football was strong, there was no doubt that music was his passion. That passion was fueled when he got his hands on his first guitar.

Ra’Shad started playing guitar at the age of 16 and has only advanced since. He started his first band at the age of 23, and they became known as “The Groove Band”. They began playing for local artists doing live shows and have worked their way up the blues ladder and all throughout the blues family. He has worked with many blues artists such as Krishunda Echols, LaMorris Williams, Napoleon Demps, Kenne Wayne, and J-Wonn. As Ra’Shad was mastering and growing with his band, he was also growing as an artist. He would participate in jam sessions with Tommie “T-bone” Pruitt and later Mr. L.C. Ulmer. It was during these sessions with Mr. Ulmer that he adopted the name “Blues Kid”. He was a young mentor to the great blues legend. They encouraged him and helped to form him into the artist that we all know today. His sound and passion are what distinguish him from other artists. His eclectic musical taste also plays a part in the quality sound that he gives into his own songs and music. His musical style is influenced by artist such as Little Milton, Albert King, Albert Collins, Freddy King, Jeff Beck and Keith Irvin to name a few. Ra’Shad is an artist who remains humble and kind while keeping the blues tradition alive.

Interview by Michael Limnios

What do you learn about yourself from the blues music and culture and what does the blues mean to you?

People live the blues each and every day in some form or fashion. Being a Blues artist, I have learned that life itself has a deeper meaning and it should be embraced and the blues can really capture a lot of those experiences. The blues is really a culture overall and it is a lifestyle.

How do you describe Ra'Shad (The Blues Kid) sound and songbook? What characterize your music philosophy?

I can be described as a versatile artist whose sound is in incredible, relatable, and realistic. The songbook is written from a realist perspective and encourages fun, backyard gatherings, and embraces real life experience. My musical philosophy can be characterized by the desire for success and keeping the blues as genuine as possible.

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

I have had the opportunity to sit in with several different artist and has learned from each and every one. A couple of the most memorable would be with Mr. L.C. Ulmer. Having the opportunity to sit in with him from 2-3 times a week before his death encouraged me to continue with my music career. Some of the best advice I had received was to stay healthy and play the hell out of my guitar.

"People live the blues each and every day in some form or fashion. Being a Blues artist, I have learned that life itself has a deeper meaning and it should be embraced and the blues can really capture a lot of those experiences. The blues is really a culture overall and it is a lifestyle."

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Meeting with Tommy “T-Bone” Pruitt, we would have jam sessions and Sunday park meetings.

What do you miss most nowadays from the Blues & Soul of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Blues past had a sense of authenticity that is sometimes lacking in the current blues. My hopes are that the artists of today do not forget about the previous artists and that the blues continues to grow and become something that more people can listen to, enjoy, and grow with.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

I would encourage more artists to learn about their musical rights. I would encourage musical & mechanical rights and copyrights to be taught so that artist can become more aware.

What were the reasons that made the Mississippi to be the center of Soul/Blues researches and experiments?

Mississippi has always been a state that had to endure hardships and overcome trials. Many artist that are inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame are from Mississippi. It is a state that is very diverse and contains a moderate group of individuals with unique tastes so it is easy to introduce new music and this has allowed several artist to grow and learn about the population and what can be expected in other areas since this is where it all began.

"Blues past had a sense of authenticity that is sometimes lacking in the current blues. My hopes are that the artists of today do not forget about the previous artists and that the blues continues to grow and become something that more people can listen to, enjoy, and grow with."

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues from Robert Johnson to Little Milton and The Blues Kid(s) todays?

The desire to keep Blues Music alive and deliver good music to a different crowd is what connects us all. There is a sense of dedication to the fans and they are who we do this for. For the enjoyment and fulfillment of those who truly care where the blues is headed.

What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from the local music circuits?

Something that touched me emotionally was the death of Mr. L.C. All the time that I spent with him before his death will forever be cherished and viewed as a learning experience.

What is the impact of Blues & Soul music and culture to the racial, political and socio-cultural implications?

Blues music is a genre of music that can genuinely bring all kinds of people together. Blues was born in the Southern states and grew beyond it. The music is continually enjoyed by people of all races and it's something that many can relate to. In an economy bent on being "politically-correct", the blues does not focus on being that way. It allows for free expression and telling the truth without worry or disappointments because the stories told depict real feelings and what people could have or could be experiencing.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day..?

I would go back to the time when Albert Collins, Freddie King and Albert King were rockin out and capturing the crowds.

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