Jontavious Willis, standing on the porch of a white-sided building, playing guitar

Jontavious Willis

This musician was nominated for a Grammy in 2020 for Best Original Blues Album.

Singer, songwriter, and musician Jontavious Willis began his career in music when he was three, in his grandfather’s church choir. His dad bought him a guitar when he was 14 and shortly after he saw a video of Muddy Waters playing “Hoochie Coochie Man.”

That was it: the way Muddy Waters laughed, talked with the audience, and expected and got responses reminded Jontavious of the best moments in his grandfather’s church. He was hooked on the blues.

He was invited to play with Taj Mahal on stage in 2015, released his first album (Blues Metamorphosis) in 2016, and won the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in 2018 — all before he was 25.

Jontavious plays guitar, harmonica, resonator guitar, and other instruments, but considers his voice his main instrument. In addition to using that voice to sing the old blues favorites and his compositions, this musician also spreads the word about the blues and the blues masters who play in little towns and big cities in the “Fall Line Region.” Jontavious and Henry Jacobs collaborate on the Fall Line Blues Project, which documents and records the men and women who have played the Blues in Alabama and Georgia for tens of years. 

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