“In 1954, McKinley Morganfield bought his first house, located at 4339 S. Lake Park Avenue in Kenwood. Better known as Muddy Waters, the Father of Chicago Blues shared the south-side house with his wife Geneva, Geneva’s son Charles, his granddaughter Amelia ‘Cookie’ Cooper, and his great-granddaughter Chandra ‘Peaches’ Cooper.
“Quite a few people came and went over the nearly two decades Muddy lived there. Pianist Otis Spann and harmonica player Paul Oscher, members of Muddy’s band, were among the musicians who stayed in the basement. The basement also hosted legendary jam sessions and rehearsals with some of the greatest blues artists on earth. During his years in Kenwood, Muddy recorded some of his best-known and most enduring songs, including ‘Hoochie Coochie Man,’ ‘Got My Mojo Working,’ and ‘Mannish Boy.’
“Today the house is owned by Muddy’s great-granddaughter Chandra, who is the president of the nonprofit that’s working to turn it into the Muddy Waters Mojo Museum. The city designated the house a Chicago landmark last October, and this spring the nonprofit received $250,000 from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks for exterior renovations and another $116,152 from the city for interior renovations. The house has been unoccupied for more than a decade, so it needs plenty of work. The Mojo Museum eventually plans to open exhibit space on the first floor and a recording studio and music room in the basement.
“Most of the coverage of the museum project has focused on the process of securing landmark status and raising funds, and on underlining Muddy’s huge importance in the worlds of blues and rock ’n’ roll. I wanted to tell a more personal story, so I talked to Amelia, who grew up in the Kenwood house, and to Chandra, who was born in 1970, a few years before the family moved out. I asked both ladies what it was like to live with Muddy Waters.” (Farr, Chicago Reader, 7/21/22)