Pictured are, from left, Marty Gamblin, Marty Stuart, Lee Lewis, Gov. Phil Bryant, Margaret Feierabend of Bristol, Tenn., and Lynn Spruill, the mayor of Starkville.
Pictured are, from left, Marty Gamblin, Marty Stuart, Lee Lewis, Gov. Phil Bryant, Margaret Feierabend of Bristol, Tenn., and Lynn Spruill, the mayor of Starkville.
Gov. Phil Bryant was in town last week pledging his support for Marty Stuart’s Congress of Country Music as five new members to the Mississippi Country Music Trail were inducted, including Philadelphia’s Marty Gamblin.

Gamblin, who had a long career in Nashville with the likes of Glen Campbell, was one of the inductees and he, too, pledged his support for the Congress of County Music suggesting there needs to be a local buy-in.

“I think it is going to be a combination of finding outside resources,” Gamblin said. “Locally, if we could come up with X number of dollars, to show there is a buy-in for the community, the state will come to the table, and we could make this thing happen.”

He said money talks and that’s what it is going to take to make the Congress of Country Music happen.

Bryant talked about the vision of Marty Stuart’s Congress of Country Music and its potential for a bright future when it opens one day.

 “I won’t be governor, but I’m going to be here when it opens,” Bryant said. “I have about six more months left in my term and we have a list of about a dozen things we want to get done.”

Bryant said the Congress was on that list and discussed the tourism dollars the Congress could generate for the area.

“What a wonderful opportunity we are going to have. Last year, 24 million people visited the state of Mississippi,” Bryant said. “Now a couple of million more are going to be coming to Philadelphia to see the Congress of Country Music.

“What you see here (in the warehouse) is just the beginning. We have a little storage area, a little place we can gather, a little church, if you will, for Country Music. Here we can talk about what the Congress of Country Music is going to look. One day, people will come from all over the world to Philadelphia and will say, ‘how did this ever get started?’” Bryant said.

Bryant also talked about how Stuart brought the idea of having a Country Music Trail to him when he was lieutenant governor back in 2009 and worked to make it happen.

 There are now 35 markers following the induction last week. Those joining include Marty Gamblin of Philadelphia, Jerry Lee Lewis of Nesbit and Steve Azar. Johnny Cash’s stay in the Starkville Jail was also memorialized with a marker as is Jimmie Rodger’s music recording sessions in Bristol, Tenn.

Gamblin said he was honored to be part of the Country Music Trail. He also agrees that the Congress of Country Music has great potential.

“Obviously, anytime you get in the company of Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmie Rodgers and Marty Stuart and many others already on the country trail, you can’t help but feel unworthy but you are humbled at the same time to be included,” Gamblin said.

Gamblin provided leadership in making the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience (The MAX) a reality in Meridian. It opened on April 28, 2018.