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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Greenville in Washington County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
 

Steve Azar

 
 
Steve Azar Marker (Front) image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, July 25, 2020
1. Steve Azar Marker (Front)
Inscription.  (front)
Greenville native Steve Azar burst onto the national country scene in 2001 with his album Waitin’ on Joe, which featured the #2 hit "I Don’t Have to Be Me (‘Til Monday)"; it and the title track also topped the music video charts. Inspired by the Delta blues as a young man, Azar later promoted Mississippi’s music heritage through media projects, philanthropic work and serving as an official Music & Culture Ambassador.

(back)
Steve Azar achieved wide acclaim as a country artist, but he calls his music Delta Soul to capture the breadth of his musical and cultural influences. Born April 11, 1964, Azar was inspired to take up the guitar at age 11 by local bluesman Eugene Powell, who regularly played behind the Azar family’s Jigger and Jug, the first liquor store to open in Mississippi after state prohibition ended in 1966. Azar’s musical career took off after he graduated from Delta State University when the Steve Azar Band—including his crew of ten and his brother Joe—played rock ’n’ roll across Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and the Memphis area, performing at times more than
Steve Azar Marker (Back) image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, July 25, 2020
2. Steve Azar Marker (Back)
200 nights a year.

Azar moved to Nashville in 1991 to further hone his songwriting, which led him in a more country direction, with covers of his songs by artists including Reba McEntire. He broke through in 2001 with Waitin’ on Joe that yielded hits in the country record and video charts with the title track and “I Don’t Have to Be Me (‘Til Monday).” The latter reached #2 on the Billboard charts and was given BMI’s “Million-Air” award for multiple million radio plays. Azar’s recording career was stalled by throat surgery, but he continued writing and returned in 2006 with Indianola on the Ride Records label, which he co-founded. He was chosen by Bob Seger to join him on what was rated the #1 Tour in America by Pollstar magazine. Slide On Over Here was one of his multiple critically acclaimed records and yielded the hits “Moo La Moo” and “Sunshine,” a top 20-charted record and video that reached #1 on GAC-TV. In 2011 Azar, his wife, Gwen, and their children returned to Greenville, and he released Delta Soul, Vol. 1, whose “Doin’ It Right” (Delta Mix) was featured in the film Here Comes the Boom.

Azar’s local activities included serving as “artist-in-residence” at Delta State’s Delta Music Institute, narrating documentaries and hosting “In
Steve Azar Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, July 25, 2020
3. Steve Azar Marker
a Mississippi Minute,” his radio show and podcast. He raised funds through his annual Delta Soul Celebrity Golf & Charity Event for the Steve Azar St. Cecilia Foundation, which aids sick, disadvantaged and abused children, and also supports the promotion and growth of art and music programs. In 2015 his song “Fly” was featured at the internationally-broadcast 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships and was the feature song in Mall Cop 2. In 2017 Governor Phil Bryant named Azar the Music & Culture Ambassador of Mississippi, and one of his tasks was writing the official bicentennial song, “One Mississippi.” That same year Azar cut the autobiographically-titled Down at the Liquor Store with “The Kings Men” at Club Ebony. Azar and the band, featuring veterans of the bands of B.B. King, Little Milton and Elvis Presley, also headlined the first B.B. King Homecoming Festival after King’s death, a Mississippi-themed GRAMMY event in Los Angeles and a bicentennial event in Jackson. In 2018 Azar’s contributions to his home state were recognized with the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Governor’s Choice Award. He was honored with “Steve Azar Day” in both Mississippi and South Dakota.

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Azar at age 11; at 14 he traveled to Nashville to record four original songs. Eugene Powell (above right) recorded
Steve Azar image. Click for full size.
4. Steve Azar
in the 1930s as "Sonny Boy Nelson", and is acknowledged in Azar's songs "Down at the Liquor Store" and "Ode to Sonny Boy". Azar was encourage early in his career by recording star Little Milton (Campbell) from nearby Inverness.

The broadcast of Azar's "Fly" performance in 2005 had a viewing audience of more than one billion. He performed the National Anthem at many sporting events including this NFL Monday Night Football game at Green Bay, also in 2005.

Morgan Freeman appeared with Azar in his #1 video for "Waitin' on Joe" at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale.

One of Azar's dynamic performances in front of over 100,000 in Saginaw, Michigan

Azar's album Slide on Over Here was featured in Oprah's O Magazine's 2011 "Top Thigs to Buy at Christmas".

Backstage on tour with Bob Seger in 2006. One critic noted of Azar's opening show that he possessed "the inflections and rhythms of a young Bob Dylan".

In 2007 Azar joined fellow Mississippi artist and songwriters at the Ryman Auditorium, marking the first of Azar's many appearances at the Ryman, the historic home of the Grand Ole Opry.

For a number of years, Azar was a spokesperson for ExxonMobil.

Azar's 2017 album Down at the Liquor Store was the first album recorded at historic Club Ebony in Indianola. From left: Raful "Lil'
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Ray" Neal, Jr., Azar, Regi Richards, walter King, Jason Young, Herman Jackson, and Divid Briggs (not pictured, Dr. Alphonso Sanders, Jimmy Lee, Jr.). Azar's son Strack made the associated documentary feature, Something in the Water.
 
Erected 2019 by Mississippi Country Music Trail. (Marker Number 32.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, MusicEntertainment. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Country Music Trail 🎶 series list.
 
Location. 33° 24.732′ N, 91° 3.723′ W. Marker is in Greenville, Mississippi, in Washington County. Marker is at the intersection of Washington Avenue and North Poplar Street, on the left when traveling west on Washington Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Greenville MS 38701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. NRP Building (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Stein Mart (about 400 feet away); First United Methodist Church (about 500 feet away); Prince McCoy (about 600 feet away); First National Bank Building (about 600 feet away); Walter Horn, Jr. (about 600 feet away); Donald Hayes Brown (about 600 feet away); Mississippi Sheiks (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Greenville.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 16, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 16, 2020, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 41 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 16, 2020, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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Nov. 23, 2020