Eric Bibb pays tribute to Emmett Till in stripped-back new single, Emmett’s Ghost

Eric Bibb
(Image credit: Jordi Vidal/Redferns via Getty)

Vetern blues guitarist Eric Bibb has dropped the latest single from his upcoming album Dear America, Emmett’s Ghost – a blues-soaked, acoustic guitar-driven eulogy that pays tribute to Emmett Till, who was murdered in 1955 at the age of 14.

Released today (July 23) to coincide with Till’s birthday (July 25), the track sees Bibb reflect on the brutal crime by way of poignant lyrics and emotive six-string constructions. The accompanying video features an extended introduction from Bibb, who speaks of Till’s story and the impact his murder had on the civil rights movement.

“The song Emmett’s Ghost was inspired by the true story of a 14 year old African-American boy from Chicago, who was visiting relatives in Mississippi in summer of 1955,” begins Bibb. 

“Young Emmett,” he continues, “unaware of the southern cults of behavior that governed relations between blacks and whites, made the fatal mistake of flirting with Carolyn Bryant, the young white woman who owned the local grocery store.

“For this offense, Emmett was abducted in the middle of the night from his uncle's home and brutally murdered.

"The outrage that followed greatly energized the growing civil rights movement and, five years later, black students who called themselves the Emmett Till generation launched sit-in campaigns all over the South.”

A 10-year-old Bibb came across the story himself while leafing through one of his parents' books, and cried when he stumbled upon a photo of Till's injuries.

Drawing links to more current, but similar, incidents, Bibb commented, “Emmett’s Ghost was written before the George Floyd case, but it feels like it has particular resonance right now.”

The track will line up alongside the recently released Born of A Woman, as well as the Eric Gales-featuring Whole World’s Got The Blues, on Bibb’s upcoming album.

Lapsteel legend Chuck Campbell and double-bass star Ron Carter are set for guest spots on the album, which is set to be released September 10 via Provogue Records.

Dear America is available to preorder now.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.