Congress of Country Music hits milestone
Marty Stuart himself was present at a topping off ceremony for the renovated Ellis Theatre last week part of the planned $30 million Marty Stuart Congress of Country Music downtown.
“This entire event was a milestone, and the subtotal of a lot of hard work,” said the American songwriter, singer and Neshoba County native. “There’s been a lot of effort from so many people in this community and across the nation who believe in this project. I’m all smiles right now and I don’t think it could’ve gone any better.”
Stuart said the project adds to the renovating spirit of Philadelphia and will make it a touchstone place for tourists around the country along with other sights such as the Neshoba County Fair.
“I really think this will be a globally renowned place that many country music fans will be interested in, and they’ll know Philadelphia will be ground zero for that,” he said.
Mayor James A. Young praised the ceremony and said it was a sign that the project has kicked into high gear.
“My joy is that people are coming back to reinvest in this community, even during these times,” Young said. “Philadelphia is still drawing in the people and getting national attention from the music world, and as the mayor, that’s a huge plus for us and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Young said this project will set the tone for the future of Philadelphia when it comes to renovating and remodeling older structures, and it’s an opportunity for the youth who love music to pursue careers.
“I’m just overjoyed that after all the years of planning, it’s finally taking place,” he said. “When we come together as one, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.”
Rep. Scott Bounds of Neshoba said the project has been in the works since 2015, and the correct funds required to move forward were acquired from the state.
Bounds was responsible for helping to secure about $4 million in state funding.
“We were able to get the needed $4.5 million dollars from the state, and the renovation of Ellis Theatre was phase one of the whole process,” Bounds said. “It’s a good day for Mississippi, and especially the city of Philadelphia.”
Bounds sees the theatre renovation as a great asset to the downtown area of Philadelphia, and as the project moves forward into later phases, more people will see the value of downtown Philadelphia.
“We hope people will continue to invest and help us grow down here, and I see this project as nothing but a positive for the community,” he said. “This has been a great event and it’s awesome to have Marty in town. We’re thankful to the volunteers that made it happen.”
Tim Moore, director of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, said everything went according to plan despite the dreary weather.
“The rain was a bit of a hinderance right around the start of the ceremony, but everyone who showed up had a good time and the ceremony went very smoothly,” Moore said. “It was rainy but very successful.”
Moore noted that this project will be a game-changer for Philadelphia because Marty Stuart’s Congress of Country Music will feature the newly renovated Ellis Theatre along with a museum, which will serve as great country music entertainment and visual arts learning. He said having faces like Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith at the ceremony was a huge deal.
“Having the Senator here was very encouraging and she’s been here before to support the project,” he said. “It was really good to see her come down here and have her name on one of the support beams that will be inside the Ellis Theatre forever.”
For more information about the Marty Stuart Congress of Country Music project, visit congressofcountrymusic.org.