What’s in a name? When it’s the title of a country music hit like Faith Hill’s “Mississippi Girl,” Chris LeDoux’s “Born in Mississippi,” or Charley Pride’s “Roll On, Mississippi,” that name goes past surface introductions and straight to the heart of the state where an entire genre came to life.
Jimmie Rodgers, the man who earned the nickname “Father of Country Music” got his start in Meridian—and later penned popular songs like “Mississippi Moon” and “Mississippi Delta Blues.” A trip along the Mississippi Country Music Trail appropriately begins at the trail marker located near Rodgers’ grave in Meridian’s Oak Grove Cemetery. Markers around the state also honor Hill, who grew up in the small town of Star; Pride, born in Sledge; and LeDoux, who got his start in Biloxi. And there are so many other bold-face names honored by the trail, including Tammy Wynette, who was born near Tremont and was a star basketball player at the local high school; Conway Twitty, who was born in Friar’s Point and played guitar by age 4; Bobbie Gentry, whose Greenwood childhood memories made their way into her songs; and Marty Stuart, whose Grand Ole Opry performances hark back to his days as a 10-year-old playing on the town square in Philadelphia. Back roads and country highways lead to the markers that highlight their stories, even as these stars’ names are now known around the world.