A proud Jacksonian since the early 1980s, bluesman Bobby Rush, a venerable musician, performer, and blues icon, is known internationally for his soulful, funky, and modern take on Southern blues. From his recordings for the Jackson-based LaJam Records to his lively and often provocative live shows, Bobby isn’t afraid to reinvent people’s perceptions of his genre and adopted hometown.

“Where we were, where we are, and where we should be—it’s just a matter of time, because Mississippi is on the rise,” Bobby said. “If you’re out there thinking Mississippi’s on the left side of the field, come down; we’ll show you. We eat well, we dance well, and we play the blues well. And we have fun.”

Music was a part of Bobby’s life from an early age, down to a spiritual level. His father was the pastor of two churches, imbuing his young world with hymn and gospel singing. Born Emmett Ellis, Jr., in Homer, Louisiana, he eventually took the stage name “Bobby Rush” in deference to his dad. He remembers how “This Little Light of Mine,” an anthem that buoyed much of the Freedom Movement, continued to inspire him into his adult years.

“As a man, a blues singer, a gospel listener, and a Black man, there’s deep meaning behind ‘This Little Light of Mine,’” Bobby said. “We all shine because we want other people to see what we are doing, hoping that we can draw people into our realm of life. That’s why I want everybody to know Mississippi [and Jackson] got it going on. And it’s been here all the time.”

When shining a light on his Jackson community, Bobby sidelines politics to focus on the positives and his craft: playing and teaching the blues. “The blues and gospel music is the root of all music,” Bobby said. “It’s the mother of all music, and it started right here in Mississippi. If you don’t like the blues, you probably don’t like your mama.”

In the early days of playing juke joints across the nation, Bobby became used to running into Mississippi naysayers, an issue that still arises today. He is the first to champion Jackson, particularly in regard to the diverse talent it produces, from music to the arts to the culinary world.

“I’m telling you now—Mississippi got something to offer,” Bobby said. “It’s a lesson you can learn. We have a gift to do what we do, and we do it well. My motto is, ‘Do all I can, while I can.’ When it comes a time I can’t, I won’t live with regrets. I’m taking the opportunity to set it straight, about Mississippi and Jackson.”

His latest album, “All My Love For You,” a storyteller’s account of life, love, and relationships, is up for Best Traditional Blues Album at the 66th Grammy Awards, his seventh nomination and potentially third win. As someone with 70+ years of recording, 419 records, and multiple accolades under his belt, you’d think he’d be slowing down.

You would be mistaken.