Jimmy Buffett, Reggie Bates among inductees into the Mississippi Songwriters Hall of Fame

Jimmy Buffet, Reggie Bates among inductees into the Mississippi Songwriters Hall of Fame

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI, Miss. (WLOX) - The 2020 Mississippi Songwriter’s Festival may be virtual this year but that’s not stopping some big names from attending.

FILE - This July 29, 2016 file photo shows Jimmy Buffett performing on NBC's "Today" show in New York. Buffett is opening a retirement village. Jimmy Buffet’s Latitude Margaritaville will open its first community in Daytona Beach, Fla., in the fall. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - This July 29, 2016 file photo shows Jimmy Buffett performing on NBC's "Today" show in New York. Buffett is opening a retirement village. Jimmy Buffet’s Latitude Margaritaville will open its first community in Daytona Beach, Fla., in the fall. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File) (Source: Charles Sykes)

Some of the best musicians were supposed to gather this week in Ocean Springs. But, like so many other things, the 2020 Mississippi Songwriter’s Festival was canceled due to COVID-19.

The cancellation didn’t stop the Hall of Fame ceremony though; it went on virtually on Thursday night.

Pascagoula Mayor Steve Demetropoulos, welcomed the city’s famous musician into the esteemed club, Jimmy Buffett.

“It’s been said that Mississippi is the birth place of America’s music, well Jimmy Buffett is America’s music.” said Demetropoulos.

Reggie Bates, a long-time radio executive, musician and humanitarian, lost his battle with COVID-19 Saturday morning. But he leaves a legacy of hard work and passion for people.
Reggie Bates, a long-time radio executive, musician and humanitarian, lost his battle with COVID-19 Saturday morning. But he leaves a legacy of hard work and passion for people. (Source: George Cumbest)

Before performing on some of the world’s biggest stages, Jimmy Buffett called Pascagoula home. In a recorded message, Buffett reflected on how the Mississippi Coast shaped his iconic music career.

“It’s a long way from the Pascagoula run and my early days growing up in Mississippi certainly had an impact on the way I wrote songs and what I wrote about,” said Buffet. “So, thank you Mississippi for that.”

Serving on the Mississippi Songwriters Alliance Board of Directors, Coast resident Reggie Bates was instrumental in organizing the annual song writer’s festival. But, unfortunately, Bates passed away just last month after battling COVID-19.

"Mississippi Songwriters: Songs from Home" is a 30 minute special featuring Mississippi songwriters performing their own music from home.
"Mississippi Songwriters: Songs from Home" is a 30 minute special featuring Mississippi songwriters performing their own music from home.

Not only was Bates inducted into the Hall of Fame, but he was also honored with the Contributors Award. Fellow Hall of Fame member Paul Overstreet accepted Bates' award on behalf of his family.

“Sometimes there are people that do things behind the scenes that you never hear about and Reggie was one of those guys,” said Overstreet. “Reggie was putting a lot of effort and energy into making the Songwriters Association for Mississippi happen. It’s a real honor for me to welcome him into the Mississippi Songwriters Hall of Fame.”

B.B. King earned the title "King of Blues" with his unique playing style and relentless touring schedule. (Source: Wiki Commons/Leahtwosaints)
B.B. King earned the title "King of Blues" with his unique playing style and relentless touring schedule. (Source: Wiki Commons/Leahtwosaints)

Ocean Springs Mayor Shea Dobson also recognized Bates' contributions.

“I hear by proclaim Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020 as Reggie Bates day in Ocean Springs.” said Dobson.

Other 2020 Hall of Fame inductees included, legendary Blues artist B.B. King, Tommy Barnes and Mac McAnally.

You can watch the 2020 virtual Hall of Fame ceremony at: https://mssongwritersfestival.com/

The Mississippi Songwriters Festival runs virtually through Sept. 20. For more information on how you can watch online, visit the event’s Facebook page.

Planning is already underway to make next year’s Mississippi Songwriter’s Festival an in-person event once again in downtown Ocean Springs.

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