Music Trail Adds Stuart, Ferguson Here

This appeared in The Neshoba Democrat - March 17, 2010

The newly unveiled Mississippi Country Music Trail will include markers in Neshoba County honoring Country Music Star Marty Stuart and the late Bob Ferguson, a Choctaw historian and American songwriter who wrote the bestselling song "On the Wings of a Dove."

In 2009, Stuart, a Neshoba County native, lobbied the state Senate to pass legislation to create the landmark-based attraction.

The Country Music Trail announcement was made during the annual Governor's Conference on Tourism in Tupelo.

Stuart was born in Philadelphia on September 30, 1958, the son of John and Hilda Stuart.

With four gold albums and countless hit singles, his career continues to go strong as he bridges the strong traditional/bluegrass/gospel past of country music with the new rockabilly, Southern Rock, contemporary sound.

Ferguson also wrote "The Carroll County Accident" which won Country Music Association's Song of the Year in 1969. He later worked with RCA.

A Missouri native, Ferguson moved his family to Philadelphia after his retirement to work with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians where he helped establish the Museum of the Southern Indian in 1981, among other roles.

He died in 2001.

The first 30 Trail markers across the state will feature a variety of other country music artists, including Jimmie Rodgers, Charley Pride, Conway Twitty, Jerry Clower, Faith Hill and Paul Overstreet, among others.

"As we continue to spotlight the state's slogan, 'Birthplace of America's Music,' we are excited to unveil such a key element in that message, the Mississippi Country Music Trail," Mary Beth Wilkerson, tourism director for the Mississippi Development Authority, said.

"Because music - and country music in particular - is such an important part of Mississippi's cultural legacy, the Country Music Trail will help to increase awareness of Mississippi as a tourism destination for a diverse spectrum of consumers."

Tourism officials hope to build on the success of the Mississippi Blues Trail, which now boasts over 100 markers, including one in Philadelphia paying tribute to Bluesman Otis Rush, a Neshoba County native.

By Debbie Burt Myers

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