Willie Foster was born Sept. 19, 1921 on a cotton sack four miles east
of Leland while his mother was picking cotton. After that experience she
was never able to have any more children. His family share cropped and
made about $100 a year. He bought juice harps at age 5 or 6 and made a
diddley bow on the side of the house. Bought his first harmonica for 25
cents he saved from carrying water to the fields for two weeks at age
seven. With no sisters or brothers he helped his family farm and shared
cropped from age 7 to 17 often with sacks tied on his feet for shoes.
He only got to attend school until fourth grade and later years only
when it rained and he couldn’t go to the field.
At age 17 Willie migrated north to Detroit where he worked in the auto
industry. During WWII, he joined the army and was sent to Europe. There
he played his harmonica for Joe Louis and Betty Grable at a show in
London for the soldiers.
Willie had heard Muddy Waters in jukes in Mississippi but met him in
Chicago. Willie and his three piece band from St.Louis often toured with
He came back to Mississippi in 1963 to take care of his dad who was
involved in a severe car accident. He worked around the Delta and
started playing jukes around Holly Ridge, Indianola, and Greenville.
Midge Marsden , a New Zealander, heard Willie in 1991 while visiting the
Mississippi Delta and invited him to play there for three months.
Willie's career started to take off after his return home. Since then he
has played over seas several times and all over the United States with
his band "The Rhytmn and Blues Upsetters."
Willie Foster can be heard on Palindrome Records,"My Life" and RMD
Music, Willie J. Foster, "At Home With The Blues". His latest CD with
The Rhytmn and Blues Upsetters is "Live At Airport Grocery" on Mempho