Greenwood in Leflore County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Born Roberta Lee Streeter in Chickasaw County (1944) and spending her childhood here, Bobbie Gentry brought the accents, sounds and images of Delta life into scores of haunting songs she wrote and records she made, to become one of the most influential country and pop artists of the 1960s and ‘70s. With her phenomenal Number One hit “Ode to Billie Joe” and complex, innovative albums such as The Delta Sweete, she brought the sultry musical flavors of Mississippi country to the world.
Bobbie Gentry Although in interviews she granted, Gentry gave her birth name as Roberta Lee Streeter and the year as 1944, she was actually born on her family’s Chickasaw County farm near Woodland on July 27, 1942, as Bobby Lee Streeter. Her parents divorced when she was very young, and she was raised there by her Streeter grandparents until she entered school here in Greenwood, where her father resided. Attracted to blues, country and particularly gospel music even as a child, she taught herself to play piano by observing the church choir pianist and was writing songs by the age of seven.
She moved to California to live with her mother at thirteen, taught herself guitar, banjo, and bass, and took the stage name Bobbie Gentry, after the rags-to-riches backwoods young woman in the Hollywood film Ruby Gentry. While in high school in Palm Springs, the stunning and notably bright young woman began appearing in local clubs and was briefly a chorus dancer in Las Vegas. After graduation she enrolled at UCLA where she pursued a degree in philosophy and studied music theory at The Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. In 1963 she recorded and cowrote several songs with Jody Reynolds. In 1967 Capitol Records heard her demo tape of original songs and signed her to the label; the first single was intended to be the smoky, rhythmic “Mississippi Delta,” but disk jockeys were attracted to her mysterious ballad on the other side, “Ode to Billie Joe.” It sold three million copies, reaching the Top Twenty in country, and the album by the same name topped both country and pop charts. She was a host of the first Country Music Association Awards ceremony a few months later.
Her albums The Delta Sweete and Local Gentry in 1968 and Fancy and Patchwork in 1970 offered striking, original
Erected 2013 by the Mississippi Country Music Trail, U.S. DOT(FHA), & MS DOT. (Marker Number 24.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment • Women. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Country Music Trail 🎶 series list.
Location. 33° 32.335′ N, 90° 11.606′ W. Marker is in Greenwood, Mississippi, in Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1401 Grand Boulevard, Greenwood MS 38930, 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. Greenwood (approx. 1.4 miles away); Greenwood Cotton Row District (approx. 1.4 miles away); Point LeFlore (approx. 1.4 miles away); LeFlore County Confederate Memorial (approx. 1.4 miles away); First United Methodist Church (approx. 1½ miles away); WGRM Radio Studio (approx. 1½ miles away); Old Greenwood Cemetery (approx. 1½ miles away); Battery 'C' (approx. 1½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Greenwood.
Also see . . .
1. Bobbie Gentry biography. (Submitted on September 16, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
2. Story behind Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode To Billie Joe”. (Submitted on September 16, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
3. Mississippi Country Music Trail. (Submitted on September 17, 2014.)
Credits. This page was last revised on April 27, 2018. It was originally submitted on September 16, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 833 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on September 16, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.