Haley Barbour Unveils First Marker Of Mississippi Blues Trail

Governor Haley Barbour unveiled the first marker of the Mississippi Blues Trail, which was dedicated to blues legend Charley Patton. The ceremony was one of three held yesterday to unveil the first three interpretive markers that are part of the first development phase of the Mississippi Blues Trail.

"This marker is the first of a long line to come, " Governor Barbour said. "The blues are a powerful part of Mississippi's heritage and America's musical history; the creation of the Mississippi Blues Trail is an appropriate way to capture this distinct part of our history and culture and also will undoubtedly serve as an economic development tool. People from around the country-indeed from around the world-will come to Mississippi to learn about and experience not only authentic Mississippi blues music but also the blues culture for years to come."

State and local officials joined Governor Barbour at the unveiling ceremony, which was hosted by Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) Tourism Division in partnership with the Mississippi Blues Commission. Charley Patton, known to many as the "Father of the Mississippi Delta Blues, " blazed a trail as the blues' preeminent entertainer and recording artist during the first third of the 20th century. An accomplished and inventive guitarist and lyricist, Patton was a flamboyant showman with a gravelly, high-energy singing style.

The second marker unveiled is located on the historic Nelson Street in Greenville where blues artists and audiences in the 1940s and 1950s gravitated to enjoy the flourishing nightlife and raw Delta blues, big band jump blues and jazz. The final unveiling ceremony was at the former site of WGRM radio station in Greenwood, where blues icon Riley "B.B." King made his first live broadcast.

The Mississippi Blues Trail is one of the Blues Commission's primary projects. The Trail will be composed of scores of historical markers and interpretive sites, and will include more than 100 locations throughout the state. The Trail will be developed in phases as funding becomes available. Phase One will consist of nine markers that will focus on higher profile locations and is expected to be completed by December 31, 2006.

The Mississippi Blues Commission was organized in October 2003 by executive order and was legally re-constituted in 2004 by the State Legislature through passage of Senate Bill 2082. The Commission is working closely with MDA's Tourism Division to develop the Trail that will give visitors an authentic cultural experience.

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