Meridian in Lauderdale County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Country Music Comes of Age
Meridian's Jimmie Rodgers Day festivals of the 1950s, the first held May 26, 1953, became known as National Country Music Days, marking a turning point in the nation's enthusiasm for country music. Stars and fans from every country music style, from old-time hillbilly to pop balladry and rockabilly, came together in this celebration of music that was to win fans around the world.
Country Music Comes of Age In 1953, as the twenty anniversary of Jimmie Rodgers’ death on May 26th approached, his musical heirs, along with his family and citizens of his hometown of Meridian, set out to honor his memory in a way that would further his legacy. Country stars Ernest Tubb and Hank Snow, both fans and acolytes of Jimmie’s music whose careers had been helped along by his widow, Carrie Rodgers, initiated a project to have a Jimmie Rodgers monument designed and erected. They planned to stage a “huge,” well-publicized country music show as the monument was unveiled. The Meridian Star newspaper and Meridian city council were already planning to celebrate Meridian’s history as a railway center with the dedication of a steam locomotive to the deceased railroad men of the town; combined, they would be called officially “Jimmie Rodgers and Railroadmen Memorial Day,” but
In Jimmie Rodgers, the global industry developing and gelling around country music in the 1950s found a father figure who’d stood for bringing the rural and urban together, for modernizing the music but never forgetting the folks down home. What he was about, country music was now about. Performers from every far-flung flavor of country came to Meridian to perform that day: Hank Thompson, Leon McAuliffe and Tommy Duncan from Western Swing; Lefty Frizzell, Jimmie Dickens, and Webb Pierce from honky tonk; Jim Reeves, Marty Robbins and George Morgan representing the rising new country pop sounds, and such traditional country legends as A.P. Sara, and Maybelle Carter, Bill and Charlie Monroe, Jimmie Davis, and Roy Acuff. In the years that followed, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and others would add the new rockabilly sounds. Tens of thousands of country music fans filled the streets of Meridian for the parades and shows that became annual events for decades to come.
In effectively and deliberately demonstrating country music’s strength and reach, in presenting it as a worthy and dignified addition to American culture with a history worth noting as well as a promising future, The Jimmie Rodgers Festivals paved the way for such developments as the Country Music
Erected 2011 by the Mississippi Country Music Trail, U.S. DOT(FHA), & MS DOT. (Marker Number 11.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Country Music Trail marker series.
Location. 32° 21.803′ N, 88° 41.98′ W. Marker is in Meridian, Mississippi, in Lauderdale County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of 22nd Avenue (State Highway 493) and 4th Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Located inside the Dumont Plaza city park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 22nd Avenue, Meridian MS 39301, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Grand Opera House (within shouting distance of this marker); Marks-Rothenberg Co. (within shouting distance of this marker); The Jewish Contribution (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sit-Ins, Pickets & Boycotts (about 300 feet away); Freedom Riders Lauderdale County World War I Memorial (about 500 feet away); Voter Registration (about 600 feet away); Meridian Rhythm & Blues and Soul Music (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Meridian.
Also see . . .
1. Jimmie Rodgers Festival: Three Days of Music. Meridian/Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau (Submitted on September 17, 2014.)
2. Mississippi Country Music Trail. (Submitted on September 17, 2014.)
Categories. • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 16, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 283 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 16, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.