I had the honor of attending this heartwarming ceremony or maybe I was warm because it was 100 degrees outside in the Delta Sun which seemed to shine bright and eternal like Jimmie Lunceford’s genius…Anyways I truly felt like a long lost cousin..I was truly welcomed by the southern hospitality, ice cold old timey country lemonade and the generosity of the town folks…It was truly beautiful to see a community come together to honor a native son who gave the world such timeless artistic gifts…I felt truly empowered by the community’s enthusiasm, to me their unity represented the essence of what Jimmie Lunceford was truly all about: uniting and empowering a community of decent people for the common good that benefits the whole of huemanity…
I truly enjoyed how beautiful poetess extraordinaire Sis. Patricia Neely-Dorsey put moving lyrics to Lunceford’s sonic sound in her poem, A King Of Swing:
A KING OF SWING
It's all the new thing,
They said of that swing;
It was a whole lot of jazz,
But with an added pizzazz.
A Count and a Duke
Made the big bands sing;
But from the Southland,
There came a new King.
James Melvin Lunceford entered,
Onto the world stage
And his bold, lively rhythms
Became all the rage.
With grand spectacle, showmanship, humor,
And a flashy, unique style;
He led his ensembles ,
With a dazzling smile.
Born in a Mississippi hill town,
And ascending to great fame;
His renowned Lunceford two-beat
Would forever cement his name.
Copyright 2011 Patricia Neely-Dorsey
original composition for Mississippi Blues Trail dedication ceremony in honor of James Melvin "Jimmie" Lunceford
Itawamba County native son
About Jimmie Lunceford
Jimmie Lunceford, even more so than W.C. Handy, is the reason why Memphis is truly renowned for its musical heritage because he singlehandedly started music education in The Memphis Public Schools system without any money from the school system and also was the first to teach jazz studies in the school system back in the 1920s...
Although Jimmie Lunceford was a phenomenal athlete who excelled in track, football, baseball, basketball and was a golden gloves boxer, his true passion was empowering folks through the gift of his music abilities…Being a social worker he thought that music could change and save lives…He saw himself as a music Johnny Appleseed planting this love throughout the country by starting music education programs for youths…
He also wanted to start a retirement community for older musicians before he died under mysterious circumstances while signing autographs before a concert in Seaside Oregon on July 12, 1947 @ the age of 45…Some folks including his band members believed that he was poisoned by a racist restaurant owner who at first refused to serve Jimmie and his Orchestra…Even some of the other band members became sick that evening as well…