Five Mississippians: Tammy Wynette, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, John Lee Hooker and Margaret Walker Alexander. Their names are instantly recognizable and bring memories of their contributions to Mississippi art.
Music is the art most represented among these five artists, all of them being inducted into the MAX Hall of Fame in Meridian. They join twenty-three others who have previously been inducted.
Tammy Wynette was born in Tremont, Miss., near Tupelo. The country music icon has previously been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Alabama Hall of Fame. Her name is synonymous with greatness in the country music world, and she is often included in discussions about other greats like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton. Her hit “Stand By Your Man” is among the best-selling singles in country music history. She was the first female country artist to sell a million records.
Bo Diddley from McComb was a singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer who helped transition the Mississippi Delta Blues sound to rock and roll. He inspired the sounds of artists like Elvis, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones. He has previously been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.
John Lee Hooker was one who inspired Bo Diddley, and he is being inducted in the MAX Hall of Fame, too. John Lee Hooker was from Clarksdale and is known for being a blues singer, songwriter and guitarist. He won five Grammy Awards and has previously been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.
Jerry Lee Lewis, from Nesbit, is still an active performer. He is a singer, songwriter and pianist known for hits like “Great Balls of Fire,” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” Rolling Stone Magazine named him one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. He is a Grammy Award winner, a recipient of the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has previously been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.
Margaret Walker Alexander, from Jackson, was a poet and author. She was best known for her novel Jubilee in 1966 and for her poem “For My People,” which was written as part of her involvement in the Chicago Black Renaissance, an African-American literary movement. She taught literature for 30 years at Jackson State University and established the Institute for the Study of History, Life and Culture of Black People, now called the Margaret Walker Center. She received the Candace Award from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women in 1989.
These five legends join twenty-three others previously inducted into the MAX Hall of Fame, including Jimmie Rodgers, Charley Pride, James Earl Jones, Jim Henson, Oprah Winfrey, Sela Ward, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Buffett, Morgan Freeman and Howlin’ Wolf.
The MAX says the inductees are nominated by a statewide committee comprised of arts and entertainment experts who represent various art forms and genres. Candidates must have a connection to Mississippi. Nominees are voted on by a panel of electors appointed by the MAX Board of Directors and fans who vote nationwide.