Journalist John Jeremiah Sullivan, Mercantile Library, Wednesday, November 14, 7:00 pm

For 100 years, people have conjectured that Mamie Smith, the first African American to record a vocal blues song, was from Cincinnati.

Now award-winning New  York Times Magazine writer and 2018 Guggenheim Fellow John Jeremiah Sullivan has proof that this Queen of the Blues was born in the Queen City.  Sullivan will appear in Cincinnati twice in November, first at UC Clermont College for a Wednesday, November 14, 6PM reading and conversation.  At 7 pm on November 15, Sullivan will speak at the Mercantile Library to celebrate and shed revelatory light on the Cincinnati Origins of Mamie Smith.

The discovery of Mamie Smith’s birthplace is a major event in music history and black history, but it is also a major event in Cincinnati history,” says Sullivan.  “Any place the Mamie Smith was born has a claim on being a Birthplace of the Blues.  You’re talking about the whole history of commercial American pop music in the twentieth century, rock ‘n’ roll, everything.  Mamie stands at the beginning of that.”

The Mercantile Library event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required.  Please RSVP via facebook, 513-621-0717, or