There are libraries full of biographies and autobiographies, historical dissertations and thrown-together lowest common denominator books on The Blues, Bluesmen and everything in between. The Blues has come in and out of fashion over the past 100 years, depending on popular trends, the charisma and talents of various performers, marketing, and, especially prior to 1965, segregation and racism.
Rather than attempting to reorganize and expound on the history of the Blues from my limited perspective, I will simply say that the Blues has been a fundamental part of my life, musical and otherwise, for a very long time. And the longer I have lived, the more it continues to speak to me.
Deep Blues by Robert Palmer is one of the best overviews of the massive importance of this music, detailing its acoustic origins in Mississippi through its migration north (primarily) to Chicago where it suddenly became electrified, and unknowingly laid the foundation for what became rock and roll.
The World Don't Owe Me Nothing by David Honeyboy Edwards is a wild, first-person account of what living the blues really means. Honeyboy passed away in 2011 at the age of 96, and his story of gambling, drinking, stabbings, and rolling in and out of musical and life situations with Robert Johnson, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, B.B.. King and many others is not to be missed.
Following is a partial list of Blues artists who were originally born in Mississippi, and, for the most part, either made that journey north after WWII, or continued playing their acoustic-based Blues with varying degrees of commercial success in the Delta and elsewhere:
Sonny Boy Williamson
Hound Dog Taylor
John Lee Hooker
Big Mama Thornton
Dave Honeyboy Edwards