Big Joe Shelton was born in the Black Prairie region of Northeast Mississippi. As a child growing up in a small Mississippi town he was exposed to an African-American culture, which still strongly reflected that of the early part of the twentieth century. He attended tent minstrel shows, bar-b-que picnics and heard street musicians performing authentic traditional blues. The Black Belt region is also the birthplace of blues legends Howlin’ Wolf, Bukka White and Big Joe Williams. As a young man he was fortunate in befriending Williams and this association greatly influenced his musical sensibilities.
Big Joe is a 2012 Blues Music Award Nominee for Song Of The Year (The Older I Get The Better I Was). Black Prairie Blues, his 2008 release was a finalist in the Blues Foundation of Memphis's International Blues Challenge. He has performed at numerous festivals and clubs throughout the southeastern United States including: 2012 Blues Music Awards, King Biscuit Blues Festival, Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival, Jackson (MS) Rhythm & Blues Festival, Bukka White Blues Festival, Howlin’ Wolf Memorial Blues Festival, Freedom Creek Blues Festival, Beal Street Mess Around, Bentonia (MS) Blues Festival, Rolling Fork (MS) Blues Festival, Rosedale (MS) Crossroads Festival. The Great Louisiana Harmonica Festival, Ground Zero Blues Club (Clarksdale, MS), and Club Ebony (Indianola, MS) He has also toured England, France, Belgium, Bulgaria and the Netherlands.
He has played with blues legends Big Joe Williams, Furry Lewis, Son Thomas, Junior Kimbrough, R. L. Burnside, Fenton Robinson, Willie King, Blind Mississippi Morris, Johnny Rawls & Elvin Bishop.
Big Joe Shelton is a two time Mississippi Arts Commission Artist Fellowship recipient as well as a member of their “Artist Roster” and “Mississippi Folk Arts / Folk life Directory”. He was honored in 2007 by being included on the “Columbus/Cat Fish Alley” Mississippi Blues Trail Marker.