Amory, Mississippi. Where is this place and, more importantly, why should I care? This city of 7,000 +/- is located in North East Mississippi in Monroe County. Home to dedicated and gifted student athletes, brilliant and inventive students and youth, and community involved citizens Amory is a railroad city at heart. In 1887, the officials for Kansas City, Memphis and the Birmingham Railroad requested a survey of a railroad right of way that would connect Birmingham and Memphis. The halfway point would soon be named Amory after Mr. Harcourt Amory from Massachusetts. Mr. Amory was in the cotton and cotton factory business and served as an executive officer for Lancaster Mills. He was a graduate of Harvard University and a collector of rare Lewis Carroll materials.
Amory has been visited by British royalty, presidents, Hollywood stars, and famous musicians and athletes. Amory is home to the National Guard Old Amory. This is a historic building in Amory built originally for the National Guard and later served as a venue for artists to perform. Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley were known to perform at the National Guard Old Armory multiple times during the mid 1950 era. Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins have reminisced in various articles, biographies, and autobiographies that the song “Blue Suede Shoes” was written as a result of a concert held in Amory, Mississippi at the National Guard Old Armory where the two performed. Stan Perkins, son of Carl, has performed there multiple times during fundraisers for the building that have taken place annually since the beautiful renovation on the building courtesy of the generous Dalrymple Foundation. The love for the City of Amory exhibited by the Dalrymple foundation is evident in the roles they play within the city and community events. The Dalrymple Foundation was a critical part in the restoration and renovation of Amory’s Frisco Park. The creation of the splashpad for children to play and stage that encourages those talented musicians to share their talents with everyone would not have been possible without the Dalrymple Foundation.
Amory, as a hometown often will, has a way of staying in your soul. You never forget Main Street, Frisco Park (home of the Frisco Engine 1529 that carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Amory in 1934), the school (Go Panthers), parades, and community events. Amory Native Sam Haskell never forgot his roots. As a top executive for the William Morris Agency he used his connections to help those in his home town. His mother instilled within him the importance of education which he shared through the creation of Stars Over Amory (later known as Stars Over Mississippi). This was a concert that brought stars such as Whoopi Goldberg, Dolly Parton, Brad Garrett, Tom Arnold, John Dye, Kathy Ireland, Vince Gill, Phil Hartman, Nell Carter, Mary Ann Mobley, Gary Collins, Debbie Allen, Jaleel White, Sela Ward, Joan Van Ark, Ray Romano, Prince Edward of Windsor, and many more to Amory to support education by raising funds for the Mary Kirkpatrick Haskell Scholarship Foundation.
These celebrities and talented individuals visited Amory. That’s great, but still, why should I care? We also know how to produce talent for the world to enjoy. Some of our most notable residents include Lt. Col. Herman Carter of the original 33 Tuskegee Airmen, John Dye known for his roll on Touched by an Angel, All-American football player Rufus French, Will Hall, actress Taylor Spreitler, singer and songwriter Priscilla Barker, actor and writer Gary Grubbs, musician Lucille Bogan, who was an early and controversial blues singer who broke ground and barriers for female singers across all racial lines, Floyd Mayweather, Sr., Mitch Moreland, John Milstead, Kit Thorn, Frank Swan, James Whitfield, Roger and Dudley McKinney, The Top Hats, Al Rachel, Michael Freeman, Trent Harmon, 2016 winner of “American Idol”, and much more.
Amory is a part of the MS Blues Trail. The Mississippi Blues Trail markers tell stories through words and images of bluesmen and women and how the places where they lived and the times in which they existed–and continue to exist–influenced their music. The sites run the gamut from city streets to cotton fields, train depots to cemeteries, and clubs to churches. We have a lot to share, and it’s just down the Mississippi Blues Trail. Located just north of the world famous Bill’s Hamburgers right past Vinegar Bend on Amory’s Main Street, you will find the Amory Pocket Park also known as the Vinegar Bend Blues Alley. This is the site for the official Blues Trail Marker. Here you will also find local artists setting up randomly or during events to sing and play in groups for the enjoyment of our citizens and visitors. Find out more information by clicking this link – www.msbluestrail.org.
Want to know what is happening and where to catch this great local talent? Visit the City of Amory’s social media, Monroe County Chamber of Commerce’s website and social media, and Amory Main Street, Inc’s site or social media for up to date events and gatherings. Amory Main Street, Inc. and the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce keep us all updated on openings of restaurants and businesses in our area to visit and enjoy.
Mississippi and Amory born artists seek to break stereotypes of how others view Mississippians through their talent for music. We do not all walk, talk, and sound alike. We do not all listen to country music. Mississippi, as all other states, is diverse in musical culture. Amory is located less than thirty minutes from the birthplace of Elvis Presley for instance. Mississippi has produced diverse talent in various genres from Rod Brasfield, Jimmy Buffett, B. B. King, Blind Melon, 3 Doors Down, Jerry Clower, Elizabeth Greenfield, Faith Hill, the Mississippi Mass Choir, and so many more talented athletes, musicians, and performers. Molded from musical exposure diverse in blues, rockabilly, folk, country, and rock Mississippi artists create a sound that surprises and delights.
Talent is something created naturally via genetics and nurtured by family, love, environment, and community. There is so much talent displayed for our enjoyment as a result of television shows and social media. To see of Amory’s wonderfully talented people displayed on national television for the world to enjoy simply makes us #AmoryProud. Amory is proud of our sons and daughters. Though the road to sharing your talent may be long and tiresome, enjoy the time spent in collaboration with other talented beings and this wonderment, but always remember where you come from is proud of you.