2000 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Senator(s) Walls, Horhn, Harden, Jackson, Furniss, Burton

Senate Concurrent Resolution 551


WHEREAS, Clarksdale, Mississippi's, legendary radio personality, Early Wright, whose nightly "Soul Man" broadcast spanned more than half a century and drew national media attention to the Delta's blues and gospel heritage, departed this earthly life on December 10, 1999, in Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of 84; and

WHEREAS, through the decades Clarksdale listeners tuned in to Wright's unique broadcast he always opened, "A pleasant good evening to you, ladies and gentlemen, the 'Soul Man' is here", and interspersed among blues and gospel records were public service messages telling children to stay in school, requesting volunteers to deliver food to shut-ins, and encouraging citizens to get out and vote; and

WHEREAS, Early was born in 1915 in Jefferson, Carroll County, Mississippi, was first a farmer, then a hostler tending to stock at Council Spur, moved to Clarksdale in 1937, learned to drive a train, became a mechanic and opened his own business, and was manager for the Four Star Quartet gospel group when he was hired by WROX radio station manager Buck Hinman; and

WHEREAS, in 1947, Wright became the first black disc jockey in Mississippi when he went to work in WROX Radio, and until his retirement in 1998, he hosted one of America's longest continuous-running radio shows and interviewed many celebrities during his 51-year career, including Elvis Presley, Muddy Waters, B. B. King, Bobby Rush, Ike and Tina Turner, Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Nighthawk, Little Milton, Pinesap Perkins, Ruffs Thomas and Charley Pride; and

WHEREAS, considered a beacon and snappy dresser in the homogenized world of glib broadcast personalities and talk shows, Early was profiled frequently by the national media including CBS, ABC and CNN television, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and the Atlanta Journal Constitution; and

WHEREAS, in 1988, Wright was honored at a banquet with the establishment of the Early Wright Scholarship at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, where the center's founding director "Blues Doctor" William Ferris led the establishment of the scholarship fund which memorialized one of Mississippi's great musical legacies; later during a Black History Month ceremony at Ole Miss, Wright and James Earl Jones were recognized as outstanding black Mississippians; and revered as the Sunflower River Blues Association's symbolic leader, the association honored Wright by naming its highest honor the Early Wright Heritage Award presented for preserving, promoting, perpetuating and documenting blues; and

WHEREAS, surviving him are his wife, seven grandchildren, all of Clarksdale, two sisters, and two brothers; and it is with great pride that we remember the life of one of Mississippi's most distinguished African-Americans:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby commend the life of Clarksdale's legendary disc jockey Early Wright and express the sympathy of the Legislature on his passing.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution be presented to the family of Early Wright and be made available to the Capitol Press Corps.