Jessie Mae Hemphill

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Jessie Mae Hemphill, whose award-winning Blues career lasted decades and was heavily influenced by her upbringing in rural Mississippi, died Saturday. She was 71.

Olga Wilhelmine Mathus, the founder and president of the Jessie Mae Hemphill Foundation, said the artist died from complications of an infection that may have resulted from an ulcer. Hemphill died in a Memphis hospital after checking in a week ago.

Jessie Mae Hemphill began playing guitar at age seven or eight, and later moved on to other instruments.

She lived in Memphis for 20 years, and played the clubs on the citys famous Beale Street before finding an international audience.

Hemphill won the W.C. Handy Award for Best Traditional Female Blues Artist in both 1987 and 1988. In 1991 she won the Handy Award for Best Acoustic Album.

In 1993 Hemphill suffered a stroke that paralyzed her left side, leaving her unable to play guitar. She retired from touring and returned to Senatobia, Miss. where she lived with her dog, Sweet Pea.

She recorded one final album a decade later entitled Dare You to Do It Again.

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