Legendary bluesman Robert Johnson has become famous not just for his music, but also for the legend that he sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in exchange for musical prowess. Two plays and one screenplay scripted by African American authors all present the legend of Johnson’s deal with the devil, but unlike the mostly white commentators on Johnson, they collectively challenge the assumption that Johnson needed supernatural agency to develop his talent. Adrienne Kennedy, in an unpublished 1983 screenplay entitled Robert Johnson, and Bill Harris, in a 1995 play Trick the Devil, both refute the legend as demeaning to Johnson’s talent and artistry. In contrast, Robert Earl Price, in his 2006 production Come on in My Kitchen, suggests that African Americans (especially in the twenty-first century) can achieve success only by selling some part of their souls. Collectively, these three dramatists function as Neo-Hoodoo writers, preserving African American cultural traditions and keeping them alive and viable.


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pp. 83-96
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