Red Rooster is honoured to exclusively present the first ever UK festival performance by The Reverend John Wilkins with his 8 piece gospel blues band. Though born in Memphis, Tennessee, Reverend John Wilkins is a child of the North Mississippi Hill Country. His mother was born in Holly Springs and his father was from Hernando. While Wilkins grew up in the city, family parties and neighborhood picnics featuring country blues, and fife & drum bands were never farther than a short drive over the Mississippi state line.
John Wilkins' father, the venerated blues and gospel singer Robert Wilkins, was the principal influence on his young son's development as a musician. Wilkins' father had made a series of recordings in the 1930s that included the original "Prodigal Son" recorded by the Rolling Stones on Beggars Banquet. The elder Wilkins developed a gospel style that was based on his earlier country blues style.
When the young John Wilkins was learning to play guitar, he picked up his father's gospel and country blues styles.He also absorbed the citified soulful sounds that were being pioneered by local musicians and recorded by legendary Memphis labels like Sun, Stax and Hi.
As he approached adulthood in the 1960s, John Wilkins could be found playing in church, at parties, and at clubs. Like his father before him, Wilkins walked a similar musical line between the sacred and secular.
In the early 1980's, Wilkins life came full circle when he followed his father's call to ministry. He became pastor of Hunter's Chapel Church and ever since, Wilkins has led a congregation that includes generations of Tate county locals, as well as the late fife players Othar Turner and Napolian Strickland and their families, and numerous other regional parishioners and North Mississippi musicians.