Tremont native gets Music Trail marker

By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times

TREMONT – Itawamba County’s most famous resident and the “First Lady of Country Music” now has her own stop along the Mississippi Country Music Trail.
During a special ceremony Thursday at Tremont town park, the Mississippi Development Authority unveiled a new marker in honor of international country music legend Tammy Wynette.
The marker, located near Wynette’s birthplace, features photos of the popular singer, details of her life growing up in the Itawamba County area and her significant contributions to country music.
“It’s been a fun journey paying homage to our very own,” said Alex Thomas of the Mississippi Development Authority, speaking to a crowd of dozens at the Mississippi Country Music Trail project. “There are so many great musicians who came from Mississippi … Today, we get to honor the ‘First Lady of Country Music.’”
Guests attending the event included members of Wynette’s family, childhood friends and longtime collaborator Earl “Peanut” Montgomery, who wrote or co-wrote 31 of her recorded songs, two of which he performed for the crowd.
The event was a rambling affair, full of stories about Wynette’s childhood in the cotton fields of Mississippi, her love of cooking and generous nature.
“Tammy wasn’t pretentious about anything,” said Gerald Jetton, who married into Wynette’s family. “Even though she had affluence and a lot of hit records, it never changed her attitude toward people. She was always loving.”
Wynette attended high school in Tremont and would frequently travel between there and Red Bay on Highway 23, now known as the Tammy Wynette Memorial Highway.
During her decades-spanning career, she produced 20 No. 1 records, including “Stand By Your Man,” “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” and “You and Me.” During the late 1960s and early 1970s, her music dominated the country charts, scoring 17 No. 1 hits.
According to Scotty Kennedy, curator of the Red Bay Museum and friend of Wynette’s family, markers like the one erected in Wynette’s tiny hometown reflect upon the person, not just the legend.
“We want to share her gifts with everyone,” Kennedy said. “We want to honor and keep alive her music, her love of family and friends [and] her hard work ethic…”
Wynette’s marker is the 14th erected along the Mississippi Country Music Trail, which was unveiled in 2010.
More than 30 markers are currently planned, including markers for “the Father of Country Music” Jimmie Rodgers, Charley Pride, Conway Twitty, Jerry Clower and Faith Hill.
adam.armour@journalinc.com