Oral History -
Anthony Everette recalls with a smile the day Jimmy Johnson hired him in 1982 to help with the wholesale division of Mississippi Music. The division, Eagle Distributors, was an important part of the company and allowed him the opportunity to work closely with Mr. Johnson, who became a mentor.
Cathy Watkins worked for Mississippi Music for over 35 years! Although she spent much of her time in the Purchasing Department, Cathy played a vital role in the organization’s Wholesale Division, Eagle Distributors. She worked very closely with the two founders, Mac and Jimmy Johnson, and even shared an office with Miss Mac for several years.
Brenda Lust has spent much of her 20+ year career at Mississippi Music solving problems. With a background in accounting, Brenda came to Mississippi Music in 1992 working her way from the mailroom to the accounting department.
Sue Howard was hired in 1984 to serve as Jimmy Johnson’s secretary at Mississippi Music. Mr. Johnson, who formed the chain of retail stores with his wife, Mac, in the 1940s was serving as president of the NAMM Board when Sue was hired.
Wes Lee can recall music in his home as far back as he can remember. His father was an award-winning band director and jazz musician. Like his father, Wes first started playing trumpet, but later switched to trombone and played all throughout school. Wes played professionally, actively touring with several road bands in and around Mississippi.
Chris Barker’s grandfather played the piano and made sure each of his grandchildren had a piano in their homes as well as the opportunity to take lessons. Chris was inspired by Elvis Presley to play the guitar and later switched to bass guitar when he joined a band in junior high. He played professionally on the road and in house bands during the rock era of the mid-1970s.
Rhonda Beleck feels privileged to be among the very few who get to know each employee of Mississippi Music’s four locations. Overseeing the 401(k) and benefits programs for the company, Rhonda often travels to each store for training.
Jason Turner was surrounded by music growing up and by the fourth grade he was imitating Floyd Cramer’s style of piano playing. He remembers the day in the sixth grade when Mississippi Music came to his school to demonstrate instruments, and it inspired him to join the school band program.
Vasti Jackson is a fifth-generation music maker in his family! He started on drums and then switched to guitar which he began playing professionally by the time he was 12 years old. In 1978, at the age of 18, Vasti began working for Malaco Records as a studio musician playing on countless sessions ranging from the Blues to Gospel.
Dr. Sherman Hong was encouraged at a young age by several outstanding music teachers to play percussion. In sixth grade he learned how to play drums using the Baldwin method, which cemented his passion for music making. He was heavily involved with Mississippi Band Clinics and participated in the All State Band three years in a row.