Muddy Waters Chicago MOJO Museum Gets Million Dollar Grant

September 1, 2023

Chicago blues legend Muddy Waters is about to get a boost for his legacy, which will further enshrine his role in Chicago blues history.

The Muddy Waters MOJO Museum was recently awarded a $1.1 million grant from the Mellon Foundation. Waters’ great-granddaughter and the founder and president of the Muddy Waters MOJO Museum, Chandra Cooper, reports that the money will be used to restore the two-flat home in the North Kenwood neighborhood where Waters lived from 1954 to 1973.

Located at 339 South Lake Park Avenue, the house, which was granted landmark status in 2021, is expected to open as a blues museum next year.

“Muddy Waters embodies the American dream. A Mississippi sharecropper who followed his dreams to Chicago, created the Chicago blues and changed the world,” Ms Cooper said in a statement. “With this transformational support from the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program, the Muddy Waters MOJO Museum will bring his story of blood, sweat and tears to life, inspire new generations to extend his legacy, and draw residents and tourists from around the world.”

Born McKinley Morganfield, the lure of wartime work and a vibrant music scene brought Waters to Chicago from his birthplace in Mississippi in 1943.

Eleven years later he moved into the brick home where his family lived on the first floor. The basement was rehearsal space for Waters’ rapidly expanding musical career. The second floor was occupied by tenants and visitors including other blues legends like Howlin’ Wolf and Otis Spann.

Many music historians consider Waters as the “father of Chicago blues.” He was awarded six Grammys and has been inducted into both the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

His most memorable songs include “Rollin’ Stone,” “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “Mannish Boy,” and “I Got My Mojo Workin’.” The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lists these songs on its list of the “500 Songs that shaped Rock and Roll.”

Muddy Waters died in April 1983 at age 70.