blues musician, Memphis
Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2009)
Like many notable musicians before him, Robert Belfour (1940-2015) moved to Memphis from the surrounding countryside before making a name for himself in the blues. In Belfour’s case, notoriety was slow to materialize but well-deserved. As a boy he learned to sing and play guitar in the Mississippi hill country blues tradition from his father and other local musicians in Holly Springs. Construction work brought him to Memphis in 1968, with music remaining his active sideline until he retired 35 years later. During his work years he gained considerable local recognition, with only limited opportunities beyond. In retirement though, he enjoyed a busy career touring both nationally and abroad. Until his death in 2015, Belfour served as one of America’s foremost country bluesmen and Memphis’ strongest link to the rural stream that forged its musical heritage.