'Trail' To Honor Country Music Heritage

This appeared in the DeSoto Appeal - February 13, 2009

State senators and Gov. Haley Barbour want to celebrate Mississippi's country music heritage by establishing the Country Music Trail across the state.

County music entertainer Marty Stuart, a native of Philadelphia, Mississippi, joined Barbour and Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant Thursday to promote legislation that would create the Country Music Trail, which will be developed after the enabling legislation is approved in the House and signed into law by Barbour.

The trail would connect the hometowns of such country music entertainers as Stuart, Faith Hill of Starr, Mississippi, and LeAnn Rimes, who was born in Pearl, Mississippi.

The trail would not be complete without including Meridian, Mississippi, the home of Jimmie Rodgers, considered by many as the father of country music.

"I believe it will be a well-traveled road," Bryant said during a Capitol news conference.

Through not a singer, one of the state's best-known country entertainers was Jerry Clower, who was born in Liberty, Mississippi, but who achieved fame with his comedic tales from his days as a fertilizer salesman from Yazoo City, Mississippi.

Stuart, who was won four Grammy Awards, recalled that as a child he would watch country music television shows from Nashville on Saturday afternoons and evenings featuring singer Porter Waggoner and bluegrass masters Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.

Stuart, a singer who also plays guitar, mandolin and fiddle, later performed with Scruggs as a teen-ager.

Stuart said he recently was in Rome when he was struck by the number of country music entertainers with Mississippi roots.

"It all comes from here. I'll argue with anybody about that," he said of his home state.

By Phil West

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