By Janice K. Neal-Vincent, Ph.D.,
An added attraction to the F. D. Hall Music Center at Jackson State University (1400 J. R. Lynch Street in Jackson) is a Mississippi Blues Trail Marker which was unveiled in deference to four-time Grammy nominee Dorothy Moore, Wednesday, May 25.
Moore’s honoring linked as far back to the days of her youth as a member of New Strangers’ Home Baptist Church in Jackson and extended to present day. Early-on the honoree loved to sing and continued to hone her skills with the progression of time.
Moore sang gospel as a member of the church choir. While in grammar school, she won talent show competitions at the Alamo Theatre. In 1966 she launched her musical career on the JSU campus as lead singer of The Poppies, composed of all females. In 1971 the renowned Jerry Puckett brought the singer to Malaco to join back-up singers Jewel Bass and Fern Kinney.
For more than half a century, Moore’s ranging musical abilities have brought her favor among humankind, not only in Jackson and throughout the nation, but around the globe. World travels include Europe, Japan, Canada and the Caribbean.
Ruth Brown, Candi Staton, CeCe Peniston, Martha Reeves, Billy Paul and Gregory Abbott are among fellow iconic artists with whom Moore has performed.
Moore, a blues, gospel and R&B singer, was flanked on the dais by a number of notable personalities who recognized her for her contributions in the world of music. Among them were Sen. John Horhn; Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba; Marty Gamblin, consultant for the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience; Jay Sieleman, past president and CEO – The Blues Foundation; Peggy Brown, agent for Dorothy Moore and director, Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame; Kamel King, Tourism Development Bureau manager – Mississippi Development Authority; and JSU President Thomas Hudson.
Horhn read and presented a special proclamation which noted the artist’s outstanding achievements.
Lumumba commented while using a syllogism that there was something about Mississippi soil “that produces outstanding talent.” He concluded that “Dorothy Moore is one of those talented persons.”
Sieleman recalled Moore’s upbringing on Monument Street in Jackson while living with her grandmother. He shared with listeners the honoree’s determination to sing, as she hopped over fences to “ride the bus.” (A section of Monument is renamed in Moore’s honor).
JSU Director of Margaret Walker Center, Robert Luckett, mentioned having known Moore many years and was pleased that the marker was being unveiled on the campus.
“Jackson State University is honored to serve as the location of the historic Mississippi Blues Trail Marker honoring the life of the legendary blues singer Dorothy Moore,” said Hudson. He concluded that the sign “will be a constant reminder to our students to continue to develop their musical gifts as they follow in the footsteps of talented artists whose journeys began right here, like Ms. Moore.”
Moore thanked JSU, members of the dais and the audience for honoring her. In closing, she touched hearts and minds when she sang top recordings, What Is This and Misty Blue (which landed her on prominent, national tours, American Bandstand, Don Kirsbner’s Rock Concert and Soul Train). She charmed the audience, as well, while striking notes on her harmonica and engaging in soul stirring bodily behavior.