Music Makes Money for Man Afflicted with Cataracts
By Denise Estes - 1980
Sam Myers has been in the entertainment business for a long time. He has worked hard and invested a lot of time to make something of his talents. At 44, he may not have reached the biggest of the big times, but, to him, "everyday brings a change when you're climbing up the ladder."
"I had a great struggle when I started out," he said. "Opportunities didn't come on a silver platter. You had to really put some hard work and time into it. I've been stranded in a lot of places trying to make a buck to get back home. But you've got to get that experience to really know how it is," said Myers, a local blues singer and musician.
Myers, who has suffered a cataract condition since age 14 that makes him almost blind, started in music at 10. As early as 14, he was spending his summers away from school on stage with established Chicago musicians and looking for work.
Although born in Mobile, Ala., he considers himself a Jacksonian be-cause he attended Piney Woods as a youngster. Piney Woods where he first became interested in music, was once located in Mobile, but later moved to Jackson.
"One day while at school I heard a band playing," he said. "I asked Jonas Brown, who, even though I didn't know at the time, had been placed with me to find out my interests, where the music was coming from. He told me that it was the band playing and asked me if I wanted to go and watch. I said yes, and from there I went off into music. It was some-thing that really inspired me to stay in school," he said.
In the meantime, Brown, now a minister in Jackson, went back to tell the principal of Piney Woods that he had finally found out what Myers was interested in, said Myers.
"At first," said Myers, "I kept saying to myself 'I'm going to run away from this place.' but after becoming interested in music. I never wanted to leave the school when my mother would come to get me."
During school he learned to play the drums, trumpet and trombone. He played with the marching band, swing band and sang with the choir.
"The swinging band was really something then." he said.
Myers, who recently returned from a tour of Europe has been performing around Jackson for the past 20 years. His fans are always' yelling. "Sing it Sam." And those that hear him for the first time after an ear of Sam's smooth blues, become loyal fans.
In Northeast Jackson, he has per-formed at the Lamar Emporium, George Street Upstairs, C.W. Goodnight and recently performed at the Sheraton's Pyramid Lounge.
Myers has written three albums and two singles. His three albums are on the T.J. Records label out of San Francisco. One of the singles was done on an ACE label and the other on the FIRE label of New York.
In 1957, he recorded a single. "Sleeping in the Ground" and "My Love is Here to Stay" under the ACE label. In 1959, he recorded, "You Don't Have To Go" and "Sad, Sad Lonesome Day," a single under the FIRE label.
While playing at Richard's Playhouse on Farish Street one night in 1978, an agent from T.J. Associates offered him a five-year contract with the company.
"It sounded good to me so I signed," said Myers.
Under his present contract he has recorded three albums, "Down Home Mississippi," his biggest seller, "Sam Myers Sings the Blues." and his latest release "The Worlds Wonder."
Myers has been in and out of recording studios and has traveled with popular musicians since he got into the music business. He has played and recorded with Muddy Water and other Chicago_ musicians.
"At that time it was hard for me to get off into nightclubs as a solo performer,” he said.
A lot of musicians have influenced Myers music. He has worked with Jimmy Smith an organist. and Charles Brown. a blues and jazz musician, both great artists of the 40s. "They influenced me to hang in there.' He also has also worked with Elmore James, a famous jazz guitarist and was also inspired by the music of trumpet player Broff Davis of Jackson State University, he said.
After retiring from the road for a while, Myers started working full-time in a factory at the Mississippi Industry for the Blind and has worked there for the past 14 years.
“But,” he said, “up until then I had always been able to make a living in the music business."
Outside of entertaining, the work at the Industries for the Blind was the only other job he has ever had.
"In fact, it was the first time ever having a Social Security card," he said.
For 10 of his years at his new job, Myers was out of the music business, but he never got it out of his blood.
He said, “It wasn't fun living out of a suitcase, doing one-righters, but when the guys (musicians) would come to town and I'd chat with them and ask them how it had been going and they'd tell me it was 'OK man' or when they'd get on the bus and leave. I’d get homesick.”