Meridian in Lauderdale County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Father of Country Music
Singing winningly, with storytelling clarity and physicality, of the real lives and fondest dreams of his down home audience, with varied musical backing that ranged from his own solitary guitar to rural pickers, horns, and Hawaiian bands, in just five years as a star before his early death in 1933, Jimmie Rodgers placed a defining stamp on what country music would be. Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame simply calls Meridian’s Singing Brakeman “The Man Who Started It All.”
Jimmie Rodgers never heard the term “country music.” As he performed in the 1920s and early ‘30s, the genre was just being defined. Yet the subjects he sang about were subjects country would take to heart: day-to-day life at work and at home, holding on to tradition in a fast-changing modern world, and hot times on Saturday nights. He wrote songs about trains, outlaws, hoboes, and cowpokes, as well as dealing with loneliness and love. He learned much about these themes exploring the barber shops, pool halls and theaters of Meridian in the years before World War I, and more working
If his contemporaries the Carter Family of Virginia were standard-bearers of domesticity and updated church-derived harmonies, Jimmie Rodgers introduced more daring themes and more aggressive musical styles. At once a charming “rounder” outsider, a working “Singing Brakeman,” and a master of show business, Rodgers was larger than life to fans, yet never above them, becoming a model for country stars who followed. Rodgers's microphone-enabled, plain-talk vocal tones held his local accent intact, and his strong sense of drama and comedy alike made his lyrics come to life. He modernized down-home singing, even as he brought details of Mississippi life to the world at large. In his own recording years (1927-1933) his records sold well not only in the South and throughout the United States, but across the world.
He virtually invented the guitar-playing, singing songwriter who reports on his own life, even singing of his tuberculosis and of his own looming death. Adept at personalizing songs, he was equally comfortable adapting old ballads, piecing together new blues verses, and identifying material by other songwriters that would work well for him.
In the 1950s, when country music matured enough to trace its own origins, Jimmie Rodgers became known as “the Father of Country Music.”
Erected 2010 by the Mississippi Country Music Trail, U.S. DOT(FHA), & MS DOT. (Marker Number 1.)
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 year for this entry is 1933.
Location. 32° 22.085′ N, 88° 39.608′ W. Marker is in Meridian, Mississippi, in Lauderdale County. Marker is on Oak Grove Drive, 0.1 miles north of Azalea Drive (Old Mississippi Highway 19), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 680 Oak Grove Drive, Meridian MS 39301, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. 10th Avenue Masonic Cemeteries (approx. 1.8 miles away); Newell Chapel CME (approx. 1.9 McLemore Cemetery (approx. 2 miles away); Historic McLemore Cemetery 1839 (approx. 2 miles away); a different marker also named McLemore Cemetery (approx. 2 miles away); Jimmie Rodgers & The Blues (approx. 2 miles away); Sherman's "Bow Tie" (approx. 2.1 miles away); Railroads and the War (approx. 2.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Meridian.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
Also see . . .
1. Jimmie Rodgers website. (Submitted on September 16, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
2. Mississippi Country Music Trail. (Submitted on September 17, 2014.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 27, 2018. It was originally submitted on September 16, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 484 times since then and 67 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.