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.