Oral History -
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 Belwin band method series, 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.
Sherry Kampe was hired to join the Mississippi Music team about the same time as her lifelong friend Rosi Johnson. The two played a big role in adapting new technology over the years to address tasks such as accounts receivable and monthly inventory.
Shane Henker has always been drawn to musical instruments, first as a player and later as a repair technician. While serving in the US Marine Corps, Shane played in the Army Reserve Band and later in the Gulfport Symphony. He attended the Band Instrument Repair program at Minnesota State College Southeast in Red Wing, where he furthered his training as a repair technician.
Tim Miller was watching The Ed Sullivan Show when the Beatles came on and changed his life. From that moment on, he wanted to play drums! Tim’s very supportive father drove him to lessons each week and Tim was encouraged to develop as a musician by several dedicated teachers.
Bix Johnson’s parents started a small retail business out of their home following World War II, which grew into the multi-chain of stores for Mississippi Music. Bix grew up in the business and like his family became heavily involved with the development of not only their own business but of the music products industry by being active in several organizations.
Liz Jones joined Mississippi Music in August 1977 when the company was operating Peavey’s Melody Music in Meridian. Her husband, Barry, was hired a few months earlier to make deliveries for the store, while Liz started out behind the front counter. Together the couple worked all aspects of the store, which later moved across town becoming a Mississippi Music branded store.