Osyka in Pike County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
T. Tommy Cutrer
Born just across the state line in Kentwood, La., on June 29, 1924, and raised and schooled in Osyka, Thomas Clinton Cutrer was the son of logger Thomas J. Cutrer and wife Zellie. He was playing football for Osyka High School at age 14 when he was sidelined by osteomyelitis. After being bed-ridden for a year, he resumed school at St. Mary of the Pines in Chatawa, where the nuns stressed elocution. Clear diction would stick with him: by his senior year he was working as emcee of a radio variety show in McComb.
Cutrer took on increasingly prominent disc jockey and emcee jobs at KARK, Little Rock (1943); WREC, Memphis (1944); WSLI, Jackson (1946); NUZ, Houston (1949); and KCIJ, Shreveport
The manager of the Houston station, finding the pronunciation “cut-Trair” difficult, dubbed him simply “T. Tommy,” and the on-air name stuck.
In Shreveport, Cutrer was the first disc jockey to play Johnny Cash records and the first outside of Memphis to play Elvis Presley records. He also furthered his secondary career as a singer of country and gospel music and as a drum-playing band leader. Such legendary instrumentalists as Floyd Cramer and Jimmy Day were Cutrer band members, and he recorded dozens of singles for such labels as Abbott, Capitol, Mercury, Columbia and Dot during the 1950s.
When he lost his left leg in a car crash en route to Nashville, his ability to play music was severely limited, but the country music capital proved the site of his greatest country music success. At the widely-heard WSM radio, between 1954 and 1964 he achieved national fame as a disc jockey, the voice of the Grand Ole Opry after a stint as owner-operator of WJQS radio in Jackson, as the emcee on the Flatt & Scrugg, Pet Milk Opry and Johnny Cash television shows.
He was named the nation’s top D.J. in 1957. As emcee of the broadcast Country Music Worldwide, he was heard across Europe, South America and Africa.
Cutrer turned to politics in 1976, in an attempted run for Congress in Tennessee, and was successfully elected a state senator there in 1979. He followed that four years in office with a stand as spokesman for the Teamsters union, as an operator of restaurants and with a return to radio.
Music City, USA, his nationally syndicated country music interview show, was heard on more than 130 stations in the 1970s. Cutrer was elected to the Disc Jockey Hall of Fame in 1980.
He married Vicky Martin in 1943. They had three sons and two daughters, and were married for 55 years, until his death on Oct. 11, 1998.
Erected 2011 by the Mississippi Country Music Trail. (Marker Number 15.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Country Music Trail 🎶 series list. A significant historical month for this entry is June 1982.
Location. 31° 0.607′ N, 90° 28.932′ W. Marker is in Osyka, Mississippi, in Pike County. Marker is at the intersection of Liberty Street (State Highway 584) and 1st Road West, on the right when traveling east on Liberty Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Osyka MS 39657, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Thirty-First Parallel (approx. 2.4 miles away in Louisiana); Roncal (approx. 3.4 miles away in Louisiana); Lynyrd Skynyrd Crash Site Memorial (approx. 8.2 miles away); Camp Moore #5 (approx. 8.8 miles away in Louisiana); Camp Moore #3 (approx. 8.8 miles away in Louisiana); Camp Moore #6 (approx. 8.8 miles away in Louisiana); Camp Moore Confederate Soldiers Memorial (approx. 8.8 miles away in Louisiana); Camp Moore Confederate Cemetery (approx. 8.8 miles away in Louisiana).
Credits. This page was last revised on April 13, 2017. It was originally submitted on January 14, 2012, by Jeff Lovorn of Florence, Mississippi. This page has been viewed 996 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on January 14, 2012, by Jeff Lovorn of Florence, Mississippi. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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