Byther Smith, 89, departed this life on Sept. 10, 2021, at Advocate Christ Memorial Center in Chicago, Ill.
Graveside services are 11 a.m. Saturday at Salem M.B. Church, 333 Price Road, Jayess, with the Rev. Edward Herron officiating. Washington Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Masks and social distancing required.
A Chicago blues legend, Byther Smith was reared in of Jayess and born in Monticello on April 17, 1932.
He started his gift of music with gospel. As a young man, he traveled to various churches using his gift where needed.
His interest became geared to the blues when he moved to Chicago in the late 1950s, where his cousin J.B. Lenoir, was living.
He played in various bands as backup until he became serious about the business for himself.
He’s played with some of the greatest blues artists known: Junior Wells, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, BB King, Jimmy Reed, Big Mama Thornton and Buddy Guy.
Byther would play locally in Chicago clubs, festivals, and universities, while deferring his dream to provide for his family and to broaden the opportunities for his children.
He was inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame in 2018 and became an Honorary Citizen of Monticello in 1997.
Byther was preceded in death by his parents, Claude Smith and Ellen Lee Lenoir Smith; wife, Etta Mae Smith; five brothers; and three sisters.
He leaves to cherish his memories six daughters, Alma Kershaw of California, Bonny Gordon of Indiana and Annie Williams, Delbra Taylor, Aldora Clay and Patrice Guest, all of Illinois; nine grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews, relatives, friends and fans.
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