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Frank Stokes (January 1, 1888 - September 12, 1955) was an American
blues musician, songster, and blackface minstrel, who is considered
by many musicologists to be the father of the Memphis blues guitar
style. Stokes was born in Shelby County, Tennessee, in the largest
Southern vicinity Whitehaven, located two miles north of the
Mississippi line. He was raised by his stepfather in Tutwiler,
Mississippi, after the death of his parents. Stokes learned to play
guitar as a youth in Tutwiler, and, after 1895, in Hernando,
Mississippi, which was home to such African American guitarists as
Jim Jackson, Dan Sane, Elijah Avery (of Cannon's Jug Stompers), and
Robert Wilkins. By the turn of the century, at the age of 12,
Stokes worked as a blacksmith, traveling the 25 miles to Memphis on
the weekends to sing and play guitar with Sane, with whom he
developed a long-term musical partnership. Together, they busked on
the streets and in Church's Park (now W. C. Handy Park) on Memphis'
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