Barbour, Stuart headline MEC event

Governor and county music legend expected to  celebrate Mississippi’s music heritage as tourism mechanism

Mississippi’s rich musical heritage will take center stage Thursday at the Mississippi Economic Council’s 61st Annual Meeting in Jackson.

With the theme “Mississippi — The Birthplace of America’s Music,” approximately 2,000 business and community leaders will see how they can use this unique cultural heritage tool to grow their communities.

Music legends Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives and Dorothy Moore of Farish Street Records of Mississippi will perform and speak about the importance of the state’s music history. Stuart is a native of Philadelphia and Moore is a Jackson native.

Gov. Haley Barbour will speak on the role of music trails in tourism and economic development.

 

“I am excited that the MEC annual meeting is celebrating one of our state’s greatest exports — music.  As the birthplace of America’s music, Mississippi’s musical heritage is unique and presents us with great opportunities to promote our state and drive economic development,” said Mayo Flynt, president of AT&T Mississippi and chairman of the MEC board.

Visitor expenditures in Mississippi were $5.6 billion, and travel and tourism revenues accounted for $360 million of the state general fund in the 2009 fiscal year, according to Mississippi Development Authority’s deputy director of tourism, Mary Beth Wilkerson. The state’s travel and tourism industry directly employs 79,000 people, with a payroll $1.58 billion, Wilkerson has said.

“Music is part of the fabric of our state,” said MEC president Blake Wilson. “Today more than ever, you are seeing the importance of music in boosting our state’s image and creating economic opportunities in tourism.”

The Mississippi Blues Trail, the recent announcement of plans for a Country Music Trail and the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center are examples of how Mississippi’s music is used in attracting visitors, Wilson said.

In early 2009, Stuart lobbied the state Senate to pass legislation to create the Mississippi Country Music Trail. On March 1, 2010, the state announced plans for the trail, which will build on the success of the Mississippi Blues Trail, now boasting more than 100 markers across Mississippi and in Muscle Shoals, Ala., Helena, Ark., Chicago and Memphis.

The first 30 Country Music Trail markers will honor: Jimmie Rodgers, known as the “Father of Country Music”; Charley Pride; Conway Twitty; Jerry Clower; Faith Hill; and, Paul Overstreet, among others.

Registration for the annual meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. April 15 at the Jackson Convention Complex, followed by in-depth morning sessions from 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Stuart and Moore will perform, and Gov. Barbour will speak at the meeting luncheon at 11:45 a.m.

Stuart, a multi-Grammy Award winner, began his professional career at the age of 13, playing in the Lester Flatt’s bluegrass band. He later played with Johnny Cash before starting his solo career with the hit “Arlene” in 1985. Today, Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives are known for their country, bluegrass, rock-a-billy and gospel music.

Moore, a multi-Grammy Award nominee, has played New York’s Madison Square Garden and London’s Palladium. Moore started her career in the 1960s as the lead singer of the Poppies. Her first major hit came in 1976 when she recorded “Misty Blue.” In 2002, she started her own label, Farish Street Records of Mississippi, to honor her Jackson roots.

More information can be found at the MEC’s web site — www.mec.ms.

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