Give My Poor Heart Ease

Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues, by Bill Ferris, was published earlier this month, and we could not be happier with the attention it has garnered the few short weeks it has been on the shelves! The book is more than just pages of words connected at the spine, it is really an archive of footage and documentation that can be experienced visually and audibly through the music and video clips.

Give My Poor Heart Ease

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, folklorist William Ferris toured his home state of Mississippi, documenting the voices of African Americans as they spoke about and performed the diverse musical traditions that form the authentic roots of the blues. Illustrated with Ferris’s photographs of the musicians and their communities and including a CD of original music and a DVD of original film, this book features more than 20 interviews relating frank, dramatic, and engaging narratives about black life and blues music in the heart of the American South.

Give My Poor Heart Ease was featured on NPR’s The Story earlier this month. Click to listen to the podcast and read the article.

You can also visit, a web site devoted entirely to the book and to its author, Bill Ferris.

If you still need more, check out what people are sayin’ about Give My Poor Heart Ease:

  • “These voices express the blues in a deep and truthful way. They touched my heart.”-B. B. King
  • “Like Bill Ferris, I grew up in Mississippi. My life is continually shaped by the blues. This book captures those rich voices so well.”–Morgan Freeman
  • “Captures the cadences of [the musicians’] spoken voices and the stories of their lives, and the DVD and CD that accompany the book allow us to hear their music. . . . If the unhealed wound of injustice is everywhere present in these stories, many of the people telling them, like Ferris himself, have refused to see their lives reduced to race and stubbornly resist despair.”- Harper’s Magazine
  • “For blues lovers who love their experience pure and strong. . . . Joyous, powerful and authentic, this package is designed to both inform and entertain those willing to plunge into this audacious world.” – Publishers Weekly
  • “Ferris’ fieldwork proves to be every bit as important and impressive as the now-famous Mississippi recordings made by John and Alan Lomax in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. . . . Ferris’ audio and video recordings . . . are unpolished gems, further preserving pieces of Mississippi’s musical past that may have otherwise been forgotten.” – The Vicksburg Post