Friday, 06 May 2011 19:36

Mississippi Or Louisiana The Birthplace of America's Music?

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Louisiana Music Hall of FameAs you drive across the state line into Mississippi, you are welcomed by a sign reading:

                     "Welcome to Mississippi, the Birthplace of America's Music."


Now that just doesn't seem right. In fact, that just isn't right. But, it is good marketing.

Checking the internet, I found the web site of the same name, with the same message. The State of Mississippi is marketing themselves with this message. The site even has a music player with twenty-six selections to "prove" the point. More on that in a minute...


Here, we, Louisiana, sit with the bona fides to back up a that claim, yet, no one in Louisiana's government apparently thought of it. Mississippi obviously had someone who did!


This seems reminiscent of the conversation that I relayed in my article a few weeks back in reference to using BP money to promote our food and our scenic beauty, but, not our music.


Back to the music player. Selection 10 is Ike Turner and "Rocket 88." This 1951 recording is touted as the 1st Rock'n'Roll record. Unfortunately , they missed Fats Domino's "The Fat Man" in 1949, more likely the 1st Rock'n'Roll record from Fats, Dave Bartholomew, Cosimo Matassa and New Orleans.


Selection 18 is Elvis' "One Night." Great record! But, this 1957 record was a cover of New Orleans' own Smiley Lewis' recording of Dave Bartholomew's "One Night Of Sin" in 1956. Again, close...


Various selections and text relate Mississippi Blues "originators" going back to around 1930. Unfortunately, they seemed to have missed the story of Louisiana's Huddie Ledbetter or "Leadbelly," as he became known, whose songs begin in 1912 and include "Midnight Special" and Goodnight Irene."


Not to kick Mississippi for their successful-looking marketing effort; more to kick Louisiana for not having the vision to promote our music, showing the real "Birthplace of America's Music."


Things, people and places that come to mind that could tell Louisiana's story of music include: Congo Square, Louis Gottschalk, Cosimo Matassa, Jazz, Dixieland, Cajun, the Louisiana Hayride, Louis Armstrong & Louis Prima, Mahalia Jackson, Jimmie Davis and on and on.


The truth is that the world's music of the 20th Century came from Louisiana. Period.


Mississippi, it seems, went looking for something to promote their state with. Admirable...


Louisiana, it seems, has missed the boat, again, by ignoring our strengths, standing "in the forest," oblivious to "the trees." And the trees are singing to us!


Author Mike Shepherd is the President & Executive Director of La Musique de Louisianne Inc., The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame, a 501c3 dedicated to "preserving Louisiana's greatest renewable natural resource"

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