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King Biscuit Time - Blues Legends - Sonny Payne - Delta Sounds Program

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Visitors Center

The Delta Cultural Center's Visitors Center is located one block north of the Depot at 141 Cherry Street in historic downtown Helena. The Visitors Center opened in May 2000 and is home to the museum's temporary exhibits, permanent music exhibitory and the Museum Store.

The Visitors Center is also home to Delta Sounds, a state-of-the-art music area dedicated to the music of the Arkansas Delta - blues, gospel and rockabilly. Visitors will enjoy "Delta Sounds Bites" listening stations, which tell the stories of the musical heritage of the Arkansas Delta. The area includes exhibits featuring the gospel, rockabilly and blues legends that have had a major impact on music in the Arkansas Delta throughout the last century. Here are the stories of legendary musicians with roots in the Arkansas Delta: blues legends Sonny Boy Williamson; Louis Jordan; Robert Lockwood, Jr.; James Cotton; Robert Nighthawk; and Albert King; country stars Johnny Cash and Conway Twitty; and well-known crooners Levon Helm and Charlie Rich.

Delta Sounds exhibit info

Gospel music is a true art form in the Arkansas Delta - touching lives regardless of age, race and background. Tell It! Sing It! Shout It! features text, photographs and artifacts relating to sacred music of the Arkansas Delta and the performers who gained recognition in the genre. Gospel music grew in the 20th century out of the hymns and spirituals of prior centuries and it continues today to develop in new directions. The exhibit features the stories of such gospel greats as Helena-born Roberta Martin, who formed the Robert Martin Singers and became a dominant force in gospel music for over 35 years. Her funeral in Chicago in 1969 drew 50,000 mourners and is reportedly the largest funeral in the history of the Windy City. Born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, Sister Rosetta Tharpe rose to fame in the late 1930s with performances at Harlem's famed Cotton Club and Carnegie Hall.

King Biscuit Time info

King Biscuit Time at the Delta Cultural Center, featuring Sonny Payne

The Visitors Center is home to the longest running daily blues radio show in the United States - the award-winning King Biscuit Time. King Biscuit Time was first broadcast by KFFA Radio on November 21, 1941. Since that time, the program has become world renown, as well as an influential platform for up-and-coming blues performers. In 1992, King Biscuit Time was awarded the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of radio and broadcast journalism. KBT is hosted by the legendary "Sunshine" Sonny Payne, who began hosting the show full-time in early 1950, although he had served as host periodically since July 1942. In the years following, Payne has become an icon in the blues music industry. On any given day, fans from Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, as well as the United States, visit Sonny Payne at his studio to watch him announce another broadcast of the famous radio show. He has received an impressive array of awards and accolades, including the Blues Foundation's "Keeping the Blues Alive" award for lifetime service, Arkansas Broadcasters Association's Pioneer Award, Arkansas Museums Association's Volunteer of the Year Award, and he was inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame in 2003. Payne broadcasts weekdays live from a specially-built studio located in the Delta Sounds Program exhibit area.

"Too Close Together"
This song features vocals and harmonica by the legendary "King Biscuit" performer.

King Biscuit Sound Clip  Kingbis.ra (73 kb) |  King Biscuit Sound Clip  Kingbis.au (397 kb)
Click here to download the RealPlayer free.

Download more blues music files from the Delta Sounds show. Enjoy the Sounds of the Delta!