As a young musician in Chicago, Billy Branch made a name for himself in the 1970’s by keeping the blues alive.
In the Moja Saga, Branch is the voice of Innes Ellis, Sitano’s fearless grandfather who begins to unpack the musical relationship between all generations of their family, the Muzikis, and the effect it had on the world. Branch played a pivotal role in the creation of this project, from his incredible musical contributions to his passion for the saga’s message.
Branch was born in Chicago in 1951. Shortly after at the age of five, he moved with his family to California. He returned to the Windy City in 1969 to study political science at the University of Illinois. Though he planned to become a lawyer, that all changed when legendary producer Willie Dixon spotted Branch playing the blues harp.
Dixon immediately recruited the young musician to replace Carey Bell in the Chicago Blues All-Stars, and Branch decided to go into music full-time after graduation. He toured with the All-Stars and simultaneously formed his own group, Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues –– which consisted of Carey Bell’s son, Lurrie Bell, on guitar and Willie Dixon’s son, Freddie Dixon, on bass. Though the band’s personnel has changed numerous times since the mid-70s, The SOBs are still playing together today and remain committed to playing pure, authentic Chicago blues. They released their debut album “Where’s My Money” in 1984.
Billy Branch continues to be regarded as one of Chicago’s most influential blues musicians. He is also an educator of blues history and works with the “Blues in the Schools” programs teaching young people the significance of blues music. Branch was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2020. The three-time Grammy nominee’s recent releases include “Blues Shock” with the SOBs in 2014, followed by “Roots and Branches: The Songs of Little Walter” in 2019.