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The Mississippi Songwriters Hall of Fame Welcomes Five New Inductees in 2020

An Article by Johnny Cole
Photos by Stephen Anderson

One of the Deep South’s most popular music events is the annual Mississippi Songwriters Festival, which is primarily held in the beautiful Gulf Coast city of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. For us at The Southland Music Line, who travel the globe in search of great music, our hearts have always been about coming home and that’s what this event means to us. We look forward each September to enjoying the songwriter showcases, the gathering of friends, learning about outstanding up and coming talent, and the celebration of music at this very special event.

In 2019, Festival organizers added the Mississippi Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony to this extraordinary week of music, making it even more spectacular. The first artist to be inducted was legendary country music songwriter, Paul Overstreet. The 2019’s Festival and Hall of Fame Induction were an overwhelming success, which made everyone’s enthusiastic anticipation for the upcoming year’s event grow even more.

By the spring of 2020, we all began to realize this was not going to be a typical year for live music as one event after another was cancelled over concerns about Covid 19. Sadly, it later became official that this year’s Mississippi Songwriters Festival would also be cancelled.

But, to the delight of many, the Hall of Fame announced a 2020 group of inductees and a virtual presentation ceremony which would be broadcast and posted on The Mississippi Songwriters Festival’s official website. On Thursday, September 17, board members and guests met at the Gulf Hills Resort in Ocean Springs to watch the virtual presentation of the Induction and share memorable stories with one another.

Top Photo: B.B. King at his final Indianola, Mississippi Homecoming Concert in 2014 (photo by Stephen Anderson); Above photo: Mississippi Songwriters Alliance board members and guests meeting at the Gulf Hills Resort in Ocean Springs to watch the virtual presentation of the Induction on Sept. 17, 2020 (photo by Stephen Anderson)

This year’s Inductees included B.B. King, Jimmy Buffett, Mac McAnally, Tommy Barnes, and Reggie Bates.

● Riley B. King, known professionally as B.B. King (born in Berclair, Mississippi) is one of Mississippi’s greatest music legends and is often referred to as “The King of the Blues”. The multi-Grammy winning and both a Blues Hall of Fame and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee now takes his rightful place in the Mississippi Songwriters Hall of Fame.

B.B. King, who is famously known for his guitar “Lucille” and such hits as “The Thrill is Gone”, also wrote and co-wrote a substantial list of songs, including “Get Out of Here”, “Paying the Cost to Be the Boss”, “Recession Blues”, “That’s Wrong, Little Mama”, “Woke Up This Morning”, “You’re Breaking My Heart”, “You Upset Me Baby” and more.

A few years ago on May 25, 2014, The Southland Music Line attended the final B.B. King Homecoming Concert in Indianola, Mississippi. Photographer, Stephen “Andy” Anderson captured the live event at the stage that was featured in our article “B.B. King’s Indianola Homecoming: The Last Time”. It was one of our most memorable music events, so we were happy to see King added to this year’s list of inductees.

Mac McAnally and Jimmy Buffett at The Grand Magnolia Ballroom in Pascagoula, MS in 2017 (Photo by Stephen Anderson)

Jimmy Buffett (born in Pascagoula, Mississippi) is one of world’s most beloved entertainers. Buffett’s music, which often portrays an “island escapism” lifestyle has helped make the tours with his Coral Reefer Band some of the industry’s most successful. Buffett fans aka “Parrotheads” will travel great distances to attend one of these amazing shows.

Widely known for his songs “Margaritaville”, “Cheeseburger in Paradise”, “Come Monday”, “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes”, “Captain and the Kid”, “A Pirate Looks at Forty”, “Pencil Thin Mustache’, and “He Went to Paris”, Buffett’s impressive catalog of music also includes songs and co-writes by Will Jennings, Keith Sykes, Will Kimbrough and fellow 2020 Mississippi Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, Mac McAnally to name a few.

The Southland Music Line’s Stephen “Andy” Anderson has had privilege of photographing Buffett a number of times, including the Buffett Bridge dedication honoring him in Pascagoula. One of Anderson’s photos of the event was used for the cover of the book “Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way” by Ryan White (Touchstone/Simon and Schuster, 2017)

The Pascagoula born Jimmy Buffett has definitely made a name for himself as an entertainer, author, businessman and yes, songwriter for which he has now been honored as part of the second group of inductees added to the Mississippi Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Mac McAnally, the multi-winning CMA Musician of the Year from Belmont, Mississippi has had one amazing career, which includes his collaborative work with Jimmy Buffett and as a longtime member of The Coral Reefer Band. As a songwriter, McAnally has written such hits as Alabama’s “Old Flame” and Kenny Chesney’s “Back Where I Come From”. I basically became a fan in 1983 when he released the album “Nothing But The Truth”, which featured the single “Minimum Love” – what a great album!

In 2017, McAnally and surprise guest, Jimmy Buffett, made their home state of Mississippi proud by appearing live at the Grand Magnolia Ballroom in Pascagoula. McAnally is another outstanding addition to this year’s Mississippi Songwriters Hall of Fame.

2020 Mississippi Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductee “Tommy Barnes”

● Tupelo, Mississippi born Tommy Barnes is a longtime favorite at The Mississippi Songwriters Festival and has had an highly impressive career writing songs or collaborating with such artists as Hank Williams, Jr., Tom Wopat, Tony Stampley, Jeff Cook, Englebert Humperdinck, Little Texas and many more.

Barnes also wrote the mega-hit “Indian Outlaw” for his good friend, Tim McGraw which appeared on McGraw’s multi-million seller “Not A Moment Too Soon”.

The Mississippi Songwriters Hall of Fame is most definitely about talented songwriters like Tommy Barnes – another great inductee to this year’s class.

Reggie Bates (born in Temple, Texas; growing up in Ardmore, Oklahoma) was the fifth to be added to this year’s Hall of Fame inductions. Bates was posthumously inducted during the virtual ceremony for his contributing work as a founding member of the Mississippi Songwriters Alliance. He had a 43 year career in radio broadcasting and was a gifted songwriter with a deep love for music. A longtime resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Reggie hosted 14 “Songwriters For St. Jude” charity events in Biloxi with 2019 Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Paul Overstreet. Bates was a major part of the Mississippi music scene and will be dearly missed.

2020 Mississippi Hall of Fame Inductee “Reggie Bates”(middle) performing with Scott Stradtner and Darwin Nelson at The Mary C. in Ocean Springs, MS (photo by Stephen Anderson)


The Mississippi Songwriters Alliance has several plans in store for the near future; the return of Festival in 2021 and, of course, another group of Mississippi Songwriter Hall of Fame inductees. They also have numerous ideas on how to further the appreciation of songwriting, including building plans to accommodate the hall of fame, music education and performing.

We thank everyone who works so hard and invests much of their time to make The Mississippi Songwriters Festival, The Songs & Stories presentations and the Mississippi Songwriters Hall of Fame so successful. We are certainly looking forward to what’s coming soon.

Mississippi Songwriters Alliance board members and guests met at the Gulf Hills Resort in Ocean Springs to watch the virtual presentation of the Induction on Sept. 17, 2020 (photo by Stephen Anderson)

The Southland Music Line’s Stephen Anderson is credited with the cover photo of this popular book about Jimmy Buffett.



Page Designed & Edited by Johnny Cole
© The Southland Music Line. 2020. All rights reserved

©The Southland Music Line

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