Meridian Star

Local News

May 3, 2007

Jimmie Rodgers honored with Blues Trail Marker

As the first inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame, it’s only fitting that Jimmie Rodgers’ birthplace would be the first location outside the Mississippi Delta to receive a Mississippi Blues Trail Marker.

On Thursday, in conjunction with the kickoff of the 54th Annual Jimmie Rodgers Festival, Meridian’s first blues marker unveiling was held at Singing Brakeman Park on Front Street.

“We thought this location was important because of the role the railroad played in Rodgers’ music,” said Alex Thomas, Heritage Trails director of the Mississippi Development Authority, the entity overseeing the marker program.

“When people think about the blues, they usually think about Highway 61 or Highway 49,” Thomas said. “But Mississippi can realistically say that we are the state of the blues, we are the birthplace of the blues. It started in the Delta, but it thrived all over the state.”

Thomas said Singing Brakeman Park, which is adjacent to Union Station, represents a frequent setting of many early blues songs.

“The train was an influential transport for a lot of bluesman during that time,” he said. “In a lot of their lyrics, they talk about being at the depot, riding the train, the railroad tracks. So when a lot of international tourists come to Mississippi, they identify with those sites because they’ve either read about them in books or heard them in songs. So this is a great spot for tourists.”

The Rodgers’ marker is the 11th of an anticipated 100-plus planned throughout the state. The first two were placed in Clarksdale at the site of bluesman Muddy Waters’ first recordings and The Riverside Hotel, which housed many blues musicians through the years.

Much detail goes into the creation of the markers, as explained by Wanda Clark of Hammons & Associates, who assisted in their creation.

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