Ole Miss Musings: “Mississippi’s Greatest Singers…By Far The Nation’s Best”

Mississippi has not done the best job promoting its musical heritage. Our state clearly leads the USA in both quantity and quality of the greatest singer/performers of all time with only Tennessee as a close competitor.

Following is a concise inventory of this unbelievable talent ending with the King himself (Tupelo) and extending continuously. Check out some of these names if you have any doubts about this claim.

Betty Everett….Born in Greenwood, “The Shoop Shoop Song” (1964): appeared in the movie “Mermaids.”

Jimmy Ruffin (Collinsville) Remember the classic “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”? Also, David’s brother.

David Ruffin (Whynot) Former lead singer of The Temptations

Britney Spears (McComb) An international star in 1999 at age 18!

Rufus Thomas (Cayce) The 1963 #10 megahit “Walking the Dog”

Ike Turner (Clarksdale) Of “Proud Mary” fame (1971) along with Tina.

Conway Twitty (Friars Point): The 1958 #1 “It’s Only Make Believe”
-Award winning duets with Loretta Lynn Country Music and Rockabilly Hall of Fames
-Country Music and Rockabilly Hall of Fames

Conway Twitty

Mary Wilson (Greenville): My personal favorite was the founding member of The Supremes.

Sam Cooke (Clarksdale): This giant of the national music scene died way too soon.  Twenty-nine Top 40 hits including a #1 “You Send Me” and a #2 “Chain Gang”

Bo Diddley (McComb):  The legendary Rock n Roller!

Mickey Gilley (Natchez)  “Stand By Me” from “Urban Cowboy”

Tammy Wynette (Tremont) “Stand By Your Man” reached #19 in 1968. “The First Lady of Country Music” Charted 20 Number 1 songs! Married George Jones in 1969.

LeAnn Rimes (Pearl):  At age 13 (1995) became the youngest country music star since Tanya Tucker in 1972

Faith Hill (Star) 40M albums sold worldwide by one of the most successful country artists ever!

Bobbie Gentry (Greenwood): “Ode to Billie Joe” will never allow us to forget what happened on the third of June. The #1 hit in 1967 placed the Tallahatchie Bridge into stardom.

Jimmy Buffett: (Pascagoula) Margaritaville is alive and well.

B.B. King: (Berlair) “The King of the Blues” ….1987 R&R Hall of Fame

B.B King. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Muddy Waters (Rolling Fork): Greatly influenced so many artists including the Rolling Stones. Born on Stovall Plantation near Clarksdale.

Charley Pride (Sledge) Twenty-nine #1 hits on the country charts!

Elvis…..The King of Music worldwide. John Lennon put it best…”Before Elvis, there was nothing.”

Elvis Presley

We rest our case! Mississippi clearly blows the rest of the USA away in this comparison. These twenty megastars are just a sampling of the Magnolia state’s contributions to the international music scene. So sorry New York, California and Motown.


Steve VassalloSteve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Has it really been 50 years since the release of Ode to Billie Joe! With over 100 covers and 50 million in record sales, Bobbie Gentry is having the last laugh. Her other great story song, Fancy, has also achieved immortality with almost 20 covers and over 25 million in sales. Pity poor Bobbie. Her hand must get tired endorsing all those royalty checks!

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