Thursday, September 27, 2012

Brownsville celebrates Tina Turner September 28-29

Over 200 fans from around the world are expected to converge on Brownsville, Tenn., next week as the community plans to celebrate Tina Turner. Events begin Friday, September 28, 5 p.m., with a special fan reception and ribbon cutting at the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center and will continue on Saturday, September 29, with a Tina Turner Tribute Concert at the former Carver High School gymnasium.

Members of the International Tina Turner Fan Club will be honored at a reception beginning at 5 p.m., followed by a special “Fan’s Ribbon Cutting” of the historic Flagg Grove School at 6:30, Friday, Sept. 28. The African-American schoolhouse was recently moved to the Delta Heritage Center where it is being restored and will be used to house memorabilia of its most famous student along with interpretive exhibits depicting the history of the school. Among the special guests for the ribbon cutting is International Fan Club President Elle Denneman, who will be traveling from the Netherlands. The ribbon cutting is a free public event.

“We are excited to meet and host so many of Tina’s fans in her home county,” says Center Director Sonia Outlaw-Clark.”  According to Clark, a charter bus is coming from Oklahoma; and other fans from around the world are flying into Memphis to join the celebration.

Fans will get an opportunity to hear a professional tribute show Saturday when the Starr Fisher Band comes to Carver High School, 709 East Jefferson. Carver is the Brownsville high school Turner attended.

Starr Fisher, a former Miss Black Oklahoma, is known for her high energy show focusing on the music of Tina Turner. Also appearing with Fisher will be several young musicians from Muskogee Oklahoma’s Spotlight Program. They are participating in a multi-cultural exchange between the City of Brownsville and Muskogee. The concert begins at 7 p.m. All proceeds from the ticket sales will benefit the Flagg Grove School restoration.

Tickets are available online at Due to limited parking at the concert, attendees are asked to park at the Haywood County Justice Center, 100 South Dupree, where shuttles will be available. For more information, contact the Center at 731-779-9000.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Where the Real America Lives

This was written by  Norm Rourke, freelance author from Beggs. Ok., who stopped over in Brownsville a couple of weeks ago. We're thankful to him for his kind words and sharing his writings with us.

"His Voice" performing during the August "Concert on the Porch"

Where the Real America Lives

Returning from a trip to East Tennessee, we stopped overnight in Brownsville; a small town of 10,000 or so, but with the heart and friendliness found only in Small Town America.

After getting settled, we wandered about outside. Across from our motel, we noticed folks gathering with their lawn chairs in the parking lot behind the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center. As a former reporter and still freelance writer (and being nosy), I wandered down the street to see if I could find out what was going on.

Following introductions we heard music…real, down home music. Old time, never-to-be-forgotten Baptist gospel music was being belted out like we’d not heard in many years. We stayed back out of the way behind the seated group tapping our toes and my wife even sang along (My singing would quickly chase everyone away!).

“I remember those songs mom used to sing,” she said.

Folks invited us to sit, but we had been sitting and driving so long it felt good just to stand. A young man at a table offered us bottles of water. Another lady came up and asked where we were from (Oklahoma). Smiles, greetings and friendliness poured forth. We felt like we belonged.

We were invited to tour the heritage center and had planned to do so, but we thought it was closed. There we met a lady whose name unfortunately I’ve forgotten (sorry) who gave us a brief tour and explanation of the various venues. I gave her my business card and later Sonia Outlaw-Clark, director of the center came out and introduced herself. She provided more information about the center, Brownsville and suggestions for sights. We told her we were leaving the next day to continue our return home, but we might squeeze in a quick trip downtown to the square (I like small town squares with their classic court houses).

While touring the Heritage Center, we learned of Sleepy John Estes and other early day bluesmen. We learned that Tina Turner was born not far away—one of my most favorite entertainers! We saw the school she attended that was to be refurbished and placed on display.

The next day before leaving we did make a quick trip to the town square and in the process were able to help a man changing a tire for an elderly lady. Actually, he had pretty well finished before I finally figured out which way to go around the square and could only offer a little last minute help. More friendliness thanks and “have a safe trip home.” We also saw the Mind Field sculpture…what a sight (I mean that positively). It’s hard to get pictures of it all.

As I listened, learned and talked with some of the folks in Brownsville, it was clear this was America at its best. And these are the folks who are the backbone of this great country. No matter which political party they support, no matter the color of their skin, no matter what church they attend, they are all what makes America great.

I thought how sad it was that politicians could not experience this brief visit as we had. If they did, they would see what makes America great. These were not fast talking manipulative hucksters. They were not special interest groups seeking power and influence and wealth.

No, these Brownsville folks were ordinary people enjoying an evening of music and friendship and sharing it with a couple of strangers who were just passing through.

Thank you Brownsville for reminding us there are still good and decent folks in our country. And thank you for sharing your kindness, smiles, handshakes and pride of your town. I don’t know when or if we’ll be back, but the memory of our pleasant short visit washed away some of the weariness of the road.

God bless you all!

Norm & Connie Rourke
Beggs, Oklahoma

Cotton Junction partners to be recognized at "Concert on the Porch"

Wildwood Express performing on the Porch.

The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center will recognize Haywood County's Cotton Junction Trail partners during "Concert on the Porch" Saturday, September 15. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m., with a mini-launch of the trail followed by this month's concert featuring HCo2, Tyler Goodson and Wildwood Express.

Officials representing Brownsville, Stanton and Haywood County will conduct the ceremony celebrating the launch of the Cotton Junction Trail, a Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways program. The state officially launched the trail in Jackson, Tenn., June 26.

"We want the community to recognize what Haywood County have to offer," says Center Director Sonia Outlaw-Clark. "Having our own mini-launch gives us an opportunity to introduce the trail to the community and let the partners show off a bit."

Clark says that many of the partners will set-up around the event area and will be sharing information and giveaways. Among the giveaways are Tripp Country Ham and Helen's BBQ.

Tyler Goodson
Following the launch ceremony, attendees will enjoy this summer's last "Concert on the Porch." HCo2, a classic rock band featuring Nicci Mayberry, Phil Sanders and Andy Cooper, will be the first to perform. Following HCo2 is Jackson guitarist Tyler Goodson. Goodson will perform traditional and contemporary Blues.

Wildwood Express will round out the evening performing the old time stringed music including bluegrass gospel, instrumentals and old time country. Their instruments of choice include the banjo, dulcimer, mandolin, upright bass and guitar.

The band is made up of Grover Westover, of Brownsville, who does vocals and plays guitar. Paul Jackson is from Bells, Tenn., and does vocals and plays mandolin.  Gary Spraggins is on the upright bass and is from Alamo, Tenn.  Coley and Marilyn Graves are from Bartlett, Tenn.; Coley does vocals, guitar and banjo, while his wife, Marilyn plays the hammered dulcimer. All are members of the Jackson Tennessee Area Plectral Society whose main purpose is the preservation of old time stringed music.

Everyone is invited to this free event. Bring your lawn chairs or blanket and enjoy an evening of music while learning about Haywood County's points of interest on the Cotton Junction Trail.

The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center is a tourist information center and home to three regional museums depicting the history and culture of the West Tennessee people. Inside visitors will enjoy an authentic Southern experience while browsing the Cotton, Hatchie River and Music museums. To learn more, visit or call 731-779-9000.