Scott Barretta, host of the Highway 61 radio show for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, is head writer and researcher (with Jim O’Neal) for the Mississippi Blues Trail, widely published music journalist and former editor of Living Blues magazine.
Scott Barretta, a Virginia native from suburban Washington, D.C., received his master’s degree in sociology from the University of Virginia before matriculating at Lund University in southern Sweden where he worked on his Ph.D. in sociology and edited Jefferson, a Swedish blues magazine published by the non-profit Scandinavian Blues Association.
Barretta returned to the United States in the 1990s to edit Living Blues magazine at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi in Oxford and also taught courses at Ole Miss and other area colleges. He writes for the local papers and the Jackson Clarion Ledger and directs the research and writing for the unique Mississippi Blues Trail project of the State of Mississippi with Living Blues founder Jim O’Neal.
Barretta was first introduced to blues as a teenager through friends’ records, and he also recalls hearing live blues at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. After prodding, he names as his favorite artist Lightnin’ Hopkins, yet he is also a fan of Cajun music, zydeco, bluegrass, rockabilly, and jazz. He has lectured on Southern music at the university level and enjoys being in Oxford because of the University and the Southern Studies program as well as its prime location for blues.