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February 14, 2008




(JACKSON, Mississippi) — To honor Mississippi’s Blues heritage, Governor Haley Barbour has asked the Legislature to designate the stretch of Highway 61 that runs from Vicksburg, Miss., to Memphis, Tenn., and all the counties in between as “Highway 61, The Blues Highway.”


“Mississippi is the birthplace of America’s music, but our greatest musical influence is strongest in the soulful Blues, which got its start right here in the Mississippi Delta. Today I’ve asked the Legislature to join with me in honoring our rich musical heritage by designating Highway 61 as The Blues Highway,” Governor Barbour said.


Governor Barbour today notified Senator Tom King, Chairman of the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee, and Representative Warner McBride, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, of his formal request to rename Highway 61.


The text of Governor Barbour’s letter is found below:


As Governor of the State of Mississippi, I am formally asking for your support in designating the stretch of Highway 61 from Memphis, Tenn., to Vicksburg, Miss., and all counties in between, as Highway 61, The Blues Highway.


As you know, Mississippi is the birthplace of America’s music; legendary artists such as Elvis Presley, the “King” of rock n’ roll, and Jimmie Rodgers, the father of country music, call Mississippi home. However, some might argue our greatest contribution to the music industry was through our role in the creation of the soulful blues, which got its start in the Mississippi Delta. B.B. King, a Mississippi native, is heralded as one of the most accomplished Bluesmen in music history, and even the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, James Cotton, and Charley Patton are homegrown Mississippians. One of the most renowned Blues legends, Robert Johnson, is linked with the “crossroads” of Highways 61 and 49, where he reportedly made a deal with the devil to play the Delta Blues.


Designating Highway 61, which runs through the Mississippi Delta, as The Blues Highway will be an appropriate tribute to our distinguished and colorful musical heritage. I ask you to join me in promoting one of our state’s greatest assets, the Mississippi Blues, and I thank you in advance for your support.




Haley Barbour