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Marie Dixon

Nonprofit executive Marie Dixon was born on August 1, 1937 in Oxford, Mississippi. Her mother was Amelia Booker and her father was Fred Booker. Dixon comes from a family of fourteen brothers and sister. Her family had deep roots in Oxford, as both of her parents were born and raised there. Dixon attended New Hope, the school at her local church in Oxford, and then Oxford Training School. Then, in 1954, Dixon left Oxford and moved to Chicago.

Dixon first worked in retail and attended the Red Cross School in order to become a nurse. Then, in 1956, Dixon met the legendary blues musician, producer, and her future husband, Willie Dixon. In the late 1970s, Willie had a vision for a blues foundation, and, in 1984, he established the organization as the “Blues Heaven Foundation,” a non-profit designed to promote the blues and to provide scholarships, royalty recovery advice, and emergency assistance to blues musicians in need. After her husband’s death in 1992, Dixon purchased the building of the legendary Chess Studios in Chicago in 1993 in order to house the Blues Heaven Foundation. She then went on to serve as the foundation’s president. Through the efforts of Dixon, her daughter Shirli, and others, the Blues Heaven Foundation and museum finally moved into the restored Chess Studios in 1997.

In 2003, after her daughter Shirli’s untimely death, Dixon’s other daughter, Jacqueline, joined in order to help in running the Blues Heaven Foundation as the new executive director. In 2012, Sugar Blue, a famous blues harmonica player, presented Dixon with the Blues and Spirit Award at the third biennial Blues and the Spirit symposium held at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. Then, in 2013, she was honored with the Willie Dixon’s Legendary Blues Artist induction, as well as the induction of the Willie Dixon Blues Heaven Foundation, into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame. Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation provides an annual Muddy Waters Scholarship to a full-time Chicago college student studying music, African American studies, history, journalism, or a related field. The foundation also sponsors and performs harmonica workshops.

Marie Dixon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 25, 2013.

Dixon passed away on November 20, 2016.

Accession Number

A2013.228

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/25/2013

Last Name

Dixon

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Central High School

First Name

Marie

Birth City, State, Country

Oxford

HM ID

DIX02

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Take What You Got And Make What You Want Out Of It.$

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/1/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

11/20/2016

Short Description

Music executive Marie Dixon (1937 - 2016 ) was the widow of legendary blues musician Willie Dixon and the president of the Blues Heaven Foundation in Chicago.

Employment

Blues Heaven Foundation

Neisner Brother's Inc.

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:6212,141:10964,196:32138,422:32603,428:33719,439:34091,444:51726,635:52122,640:53607,656:54003,661:57270,694:69125,810:74030,863:74590,872:75070,880:81588,993:92037,1108:93525,1136:95478,1167:95943,1173:97431,1203:100872,1274:108002,1331:112133,1409:112538,1415:112943,1421:113267,1426:113834,1434:116264,1478:116588,1483:116993,1489:123760,1543:124234,1553:124629,1559:125103,1566:129738,1618:131870,1653$0,0:6024,34:11813,114:16031,195:32020,389:34036,452:35884,548:53872,697:64256,893:69960,970:71460,998:72135,1009:72585,1016:73035,1023:83872,1198:89396,1245:92100,1283:93920,1324:105362,1398:106046,1412:107718,1458:108934,1485:109314,1491:112560,1526:139438,1918:139710,1924:139982,1929:153025,2038:153357,2043:153689,2048:155680,2061:162680,2198:163280,2210:167372,2248:168529,2265:169063,2272:169953,2279:172830,2306:183346,2465:187358,2530:200132,2641:212772,2805:223840,3009:236164,3207:237198,3222:238232,3246:239266,3260:243522,3375:279340,3583:280620,3683:283180,3727:296130,3852
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marie Dixon's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marie Dixon lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marie Dixon describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marie Dixon talks about her mother's life in Oxford, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marie Dixon describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marie Dixon talks about her parents' elopement

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marie Dixon describes her likeness to her father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marie Dixon lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marie Dixon remembers her siblings' migration away from Oxford, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Marie Dixon describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Marie Dixon talks about segregation in Oxford, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Marie Dixon describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Marie Dixon recalls the music at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Oxford, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Marie Dixon talks about her early experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marie Dixon recalls moving to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marie Dixon recalls the importance of church to her family

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marie Dixon remembers her childhood home

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marie Dixon remembers enrolling at Oxford Training School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marie Dixon remembers the Oxford Training School in Oxford, Mississippi, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marie Dixon recalls caring for her younger brothers

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marie Dixon remembers her introduction to blues music

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marie Dixon talks about the themes of blues music

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marie Dixon talks about her early exposure to live music

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Marie Dixon remembers attending high school in Oxford, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Marie Dixon recalls a lack of opportunities for women in Oxford, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Marie Dixon talks about her decision to move to Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marie Dixon talks about her decision to move to Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marie Dixon describes her early employment in Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marie Dixon remembers the nightlife on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marie Dixon remembers how she met Willie Dixon

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marie Dixon talks about her relationship with Willie Dixon

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marie Dixon talks about Willie Dixon's songwriting career

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marie Dixon talks about the movie 'Cadillac Records,' pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marie Dixon talks about the movie 'Cadillac Records,' pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marie Dixon talks about Willie Dixon's lawsuit against the Arc Music Group, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marie Dixon talks about Willie Dixon's lawsuit against the Arc Music Group, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marie Dixon describes the importance of music publishing rights

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marie Dixon describes Willie Dixon's role in the founding of the Chicago Blues Festival

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marie Dixon remembers establishing the Blues Heaven Foundation

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marie Dixon describes the Blues Heaven Foundation's education initiatives

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marie Dixon describes the Blues Heaven Foundation's assistance programs

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Marie Dixon talks about the blues scene in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marie Dixon talks about the closure of blues clubs on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marie Dixon talks about white musicians' interest in the blues

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marie Dixon remembers the popularity of blues in Chicago's Jewish community

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marie Dixon recalls Billy Branch's involvement in the community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marie Dixon remembers a Thanksgiving story about Willie Dixon

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marie Dixon remembers acquiring the Chess Records building

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marie Dixon describes the operations of the Blues Heaven Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marie Dixon talks about the Blue Heavens Foundation building

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marie Dixon describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Marie Dixon talks about the funding for the Blues Heaven Foundation

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marie Dixon talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marie Dixon reflects upon her legacy and how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

8$4

DATitle
Marie Dixon talks about the themes of blues music
Marie Dixon remembers how she met Willie Dixon
Transcript
Now that doesn't sound so bad, "Baby, please don't go."$$ Well, it's the facts of life. You beg your baby, "Don't leave me." You beg your baby, "Turn your lamp down low," (laughter). Turn the light down, you know, put the dimmer on. You know, I can demonstrate to you many songs that my husband [Willie Dixon] wrote. He wrote a song which I feel is very true, many of his songs. But one was 'Spoonful.' And you've heard people say that people will kill over a dime or a nickel. And he wrote the song (singing), "It could be a spoonful of coffee, it could be a spoonful of tea. Just a little spoonful of your precious love is good enough for me. Some people lie about spoonful. Some people die about that spoonful. Everybody fight about a spoonful," (laughter). These are the things that he wrote about. Why would that be the devil's music? People will lie about a penny. They will lie about a spoonful. And then he goes on to tell you, "A spoonful full of--filled with water will save you from the desert sand." And if you're in the desert and you don't have any water, just a spoonful of that may help you live, you know. But then he did say one thing that I wasn't sure about. He said, "A spoon filled with lead will save you from--a spoonful of lead from my forty-five," that's what he said, "will save you from another man." (Laughter) So, you know, but other than that he tells the story about what happens with a spoonful of nothing, really. People kill about nothing. And the true word about the song is killing people is about little things, small things, instead of looking at the big picture and not harming each other.$Tell us how you met--I mean about meeting Willie Dixon.$$ Accidentally, I met him. (Pause) My thing was I loved music, and it didn't make a difference who played it. But how I met him is your question. Well, I was out with a lady friend of mine and her boyfriend, and we stopped in this, in this particular club called the 708 Club [Chicago, Illinois]. And there was very few peoples there. And we was going--because the advertisement was saying that Howlin' Wolf was there, was going to be there, and we was going to stop in and see Howlin' Wolf. Unfortunately, Wolf did not perform there that night. Willie and the Big Three performed there.$$So, were you disappointed that Howlin' Wolf wasn't there?$$ Not really. It really didn't make a difference, because I was just hanging out with her and her boyfriend until my boyfriend got off from work. Because he worked nights, and we were just hanging out until Chris [ph.] got off from work. And when we went into the club, it was maybe fifteen or twenty people there. I think it was on a Wednesday night, and it was like, okay, two is a couple, three is a crowd. So, I'm going to go sit over here on the bar and flirt with the guys. That normally was not me; I never flirted with musicians or anything like that. But that particular night, I guess it was my night. I did, and I didn't even know who Willie Dixon were. I had heard about the Big Three Trio, but I really didn't know who they were, and that was the Big Three Trio.$$Okay.$$ That was the group that was on the stage.$$Who was in the trio besides Willie?$$ It was Willie, Ollie Crawford, and Leonard Caston, who they called Baby Doo, who was the piano player. And I think I heard Willie say--and I know I read this--Ellis--Alec Hunter [sic. Ellis Hunter]. And I don't ask me what he played. I believe he might have been a guitar player. But Ollie Crawford was the guitar player for many, many years. And Willie was the bass. Leonard was the piano. Also, I believe he played the guitar as well. And they went from the Big Three to Four Jumps for Jive [sic. Four Jumps of Jive], and then it became four people. And then the Five Breezes, but some of the same people, you know, like Willie, Ollie, and Leonard which we--he was always called Baby Doo, Leonard Caston. They was always--the beginning of that second group, the Four Jumps to Jive or the Five Breezes.$$Okay, okay.$$ So, I really didn't know who I was talking to when I was just flirting with the guys on the bandstand.$$Okay. What happened?$$ Do I have to tell (laughter)? Okay, I said--I sat on the bar, and I said, "Which one of you guys are single?" And it really didn't mean anything to me. And they said, all three of them said, "We're single, we're all single." I said, "Oh," and I thought nothing else about that. Because I was waiting on my boyfriend Chris to get off from the post office [U.S. Post Office Department; U.S. Postal Service] and we was going to hang out, because I was off of work that particular night. I was working nights at this point as a clerk at 47th [Street] and Prairie [Avenue] at a drugstore called the Star Drugstore [ph.]. And I was off, so I was enjoying my night off from work, because I used to work from six o'clock in the afternoon until two in the morning. And I thought nothing about this, but Willie Dixon did, and he found me at the drugstore. And I'm looking at this giant and saying, "Unh-uh," but he was kind, he was gentle. So, it was easy to let Chris go.$$Yeah, poor Chris was too late that night, I guess.$$ It was time to let Chris go. Chris had his thing, and I had mine. But however, that's how I met him, not knowing who this person were when I flirted with them. And I say I did the flirting. I said, "Which one of you guys are single?" And the three answered: "We all are."

Eric Werner

Distinguished photographer Eric Werner began his career in the 1970s after returning from Vietnam. He participated in a community film workshop between 1970 and 1973 and received his A.A. in 1977 from Olive-Harvey College. Between 1979 and 1980, Werner attended Governors State University and earned his B.A. and some credits toward his master's degree. He was also inspired by a Friends of Photography Ansel Adams Advanced Photographic Workshop he attended in 1979.

From 1971 to 1977, Werner worked at a school photography company, Art Color Photographers, after which he directed and headed a multimedia production company, Centric Media Productions, for two years. Between June 1981 and November 1983, Werner worked as a staff photographer for Andrew Corporation. Then in 1984, he launched his career as a freelance photographer servicing corporate, private and nonprofit clients. His work has been displayed in numerous individual and group shows and is featured in various public and private collections, such as those of Michael Jordan, Gwendolyn Brooks, the Chicago Urban League and Allstate Insurance Company. Werner's photography has been published in many magazines and newspapers and his client list includes many high-profile companies and organizations, such as Proctor & Gamble, the Salvation Army, Quaker Oats Company, United Way, Coca-Cola USA., Coors and Citibank.

Werner has been honored with various awards for his work in numerous art and film festivals and photography contests. In 1990, he began volunteering as a photography instructor for the Chicago Park District. He founded the Picture This Camera Club to teach students the technical aspect of photography as an art form. He has also been appointed to the Jazz Unites Board of Directors and the Chicago Cultural Center Community Grants Board.

Accession Number

A2003.006

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/15/2003

Last Name

Werner

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Eric

Occupation
Schools

Burnside Elementary Scholastic Academy

John M. Harlan Community Academy High School

Governors State University

Harold Washington College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Joseph

Birth City, State, Country

Riverside

HM ID

WER01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/9/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Thai Food

Death Date

5/21/2011

Short Description

Photographer Eric Werner (1944 - 2011 ) was the founder of the Picture This Camera Club student photography workshop and was appointed to the Jazz Unites Board of Directors and the Chicago Cultural Center Community Grants Board.

Employment

Art Color Photographers

Centric Media Productions

Andrew Corporation

Delete

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:10473,219:14926,271:18284,329:19306,349:22080,392:28778,432:33586,486:37284,540:37800,547:42326,590:74940,977:75624,991:77904,1037:78284,1043:81172,1092:89120,1195:89888,1210:90464,1220:98518,1340:99030,1349:100694,1386:100950,1391:101398,1403:103078,1415:115480,1530:115785,1536:117980,1562$0,0:384,3:2526,38:14529,241:15840,275:28590,400:28966,405:34090,473:36480,487:38180,510:41030,528:41480,535:43580,582:44105,590:45155,616:48230,657:48530,662:55630,732:61169,819:61437,826:61705,831:62107,838:70225,929:72625,961:74200,978:74575,984:84156,1027:89640,1082:99640,1239:103816,1315:106408,1371:106696,1376:116460,1493:116795,1500:127215,1620:129230,1677:129685,1686:130660,1703:131310,1715:131765,1723:134560,1765:135145,1775:138365,1783:138815,1791:145040,1896:145415,1902:156982,2055:159556,2122:159868,2127:160570,2138:167396,2216:171589,2250:172780,2256
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Eric Werner's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Eric Werner lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Eric Werner describes his family's history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Eric Werner talks about his father, Joseph Werner

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Eric Werner describes his mother, how his parents met, and his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Eric Werner describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Eric Werner describes his childhood neighborhood and Burnside Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Eric Werner describes his early affinity for art

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Eric Werner describes his experience at Harlan High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Eric Werner describes his social life and academic performance at Harlan High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Eric Werner describes why he decided to stay in Chicago, Illinois in college

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Eric Werner recalls being drafted for the Vietnam War and his training in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Eric Werner talks about basic training and his combat experience during the Vietnam War

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Eric Werner describes racial discrimination in the U.S. Army and his deployment despite his surgery

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Eric Werner describes hearing Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak in Chicago and the shift in public sentiment towards Dr. King after his assassination

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Eric Werner describes the impact of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination on soldiers in Vietnam and his job in the military

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Eric Werner describes his decision in Vietnam about pursuing the arts as a career

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Eric Werner talks about returning home from the Vietnam War, discovering his affinity for photography, and the beginning of Art Color Photographers

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Eric Werner talks about cinematographer and photographer Jim Taylor and federally funded programs like the Community Film Workshop

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Eric Werner talks about the Community Film Workshop

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Eric Werner describes learning from eminent photographers like Ansel Adams, Morley Baer, and Minor White while a student at Governors State University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Eric Werner talks about the work of John Tweedle

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Eric Werner talks about HistoryMaker Gordon Parks' work in the ghettos of Brazil and Harlem

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Eric Werner describes the general lack of technical knowledge amongst early African American photographers

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Eric Werner describes his camera equipment

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Eric Werner talks about his favorite subjects like President Bill Clinton, Stevie Wonder, and HistoryMaker Minister Louis Farrakhan and taking his children on assignments

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Eric Werner talks about photographing politicians and celebrities and his role in his sister's success as a photographer

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Eric Werner describes his working on tabloid paper assignments

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Eric Werner talks about obstacles for Africans Americans entering photography and commercial photography

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Eric Werner talks about black advertising agencies in Chicago and competition with majority photographers

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Eric Werner describes the difficulties encountered by early black photographers like James Van Der Zee, the Smith Brothers, and Roy DeCarava that persist today

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Eric Werner provides his advice for aspiring photographers

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Eric Werner describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Eric Werner talks about his name and his parents' pride in his accomplishments

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Eric Werner reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Eric Werner talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Eric Werner narrates his photographs, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Eric Werner narrates his photographs, pt.2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

2$8

DATitle
Eric Werner describes learning from eminent photographers like Ansel Adams, Morley Baer, and Minor White while a student at Governors State University
Eric Werner talks about photographing politicians and celebrities and his role in his sister's success as a photographer
Transcript
So you studied with Jim Taylor [James Taylor]?$$I studied with Jim Taylor and eventually went to Governors State [University, University Park, Illinois]. Governors State was a whole new experience because it put me in touch with people like Ansel Adams, Morley Baer. I remember sitting in a darkroom of Minor White. These are great people; these people were the fathers of photography--of contemporary still photography. It was great to be in their presence and to see their images close up and firsthand and be in their homes. One of things that we did at the university-at Governors State was in 1979 upon completing my core course work there, we all went out to Carmel, California to hang out with people like Morley Baer and Ansel Adams and it was a great experience for me because I was in the home of people like Minor White. These people were friends of photographers like W. Eugene Smith which I admired tremendously for the kind of things that they were doing. What they did different than the normal photographer in the black community was that they understood the technical aspects of photography and could implement those technical aspects in the kind of work they were doing which was like wonderful stuff. To see--there were a lot of street shooters in the '60s [1960s] and the '70s [1970s] but when it came to street shooting usually the technical aspects of the work wasn't that great. But people coming out of--like Governors State understood those things and could make better images in my estimation. Could really utilize the medium.$Is there a particular assignment that really sticks out as being your favorite one?$$I don't know, when I'm on an assignment, that's my favorite assignment because I'm totally committed to doing it (laugh) whatever it is. I just love it, I just love doing it and I love the people that I've met shooting for all these years. I've probably been shooting for over thirty years and I just love it. I feel like I've learned so much working with some of the most outstanding people in the political milieu, it's just been great. Walter Mondale is somebody I shot, I shot [President] Richard Nixon, I shot [President] George Bush. All these people I've been very close up and had conversations with--recently at Palouse (ph.) Heaven Foundation I met and talked to Hillary Clinton. These kinds of things are experiences that I will always cherish and they've been very special to me to having done them. To photograph Bo Diddley which I've done, I photographed John Lee Hooker, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Abby Lincoln and the list goes on and on and on; James Brown which has been situations with people that I never thought I would get a chance to meet or to work with and it's been wonderful. My sister [Toya Werner Martin] came to me about twelve years ago and asked me to teach her photography. I was amazed because I had been shooting pictures for a long time at that point and I was able to--when she came to me and asked me this, I decided that I wouldn't teach her individually but what I would do would be to establish a class and I began to teach a class at the park districts and I just made her a part of that. So that it wouldn't be a one on one situation but that she would have other students to compete against and work with. That's been a fun thing too because she's a working photographer now, she's won international awards in photography, she won the Leonard Sugar (ph.) Award from Carnegie Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh [Pennsylvania]. That's something that I will always be proud of her for doing. She's won best for show in black creativity at the Museum of Science and Industry and has had many honors and awards. I'm the only one that she's ever really studied under, I feel really responsible for her and it's been great.