Oral History -

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Tony Boase started his career in music when he was 16 and landed his dream job at Mersey Music, a musical instrument shop on the Wirral Merseyside near Liverpool in the early 1980s.

Dr. Merryl Goldberg grew up inspired by music. Her parents wanted her to learn guitar, but she always had a soft spot in her heart for the saxophone and would sneak in lessons whenever possible. Eventually, her parents gave in, and after graduation, Merryl launched a 13-year career preforming with the Klezmer Conservatory Band.

Anne Fennell knew she wanted to be involved with music from a very young age. Learning to read music was difficult for her and yet, she was not discouraged. Despite these roadblocks, Anne was able to make her dream come true by teaching herself to read music. The experience empowered her to learn all she could about Carl Orff and his methods of creating music makers.

Carl Johnston is the store manager for the Hattiesburg location of Mississippi Music. His family ran a local grocery store for which Carl credits for instilling his belief in the importance of customer service.

Ashley Johnson is the daughter of Rosie and Dex Johnson and the granddaughter of the founders of Mississippi Music, Mac and Jimmy. Ashley shared many of her favorite memories of growing up in the music industry during her 2019 NAMM Oral History interview.

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.

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