Rush Honored by Home State

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A marker honoring Philadelphia native, Otis Rush, has become the latest to be unveiled as part of the Mississippi Blues Trail.

Born in Philadelphia in 1935, Rush is a self-taught musician who left Neshoba County by train and returned to that spot Thursday to be immortalized as part of the state's music history.

Family members of Rush, who suffered a stroke four years ago, say this trip is nostalgic, to say the least.

"I think this means more to him, that he is recognized by the county and the people here, than some other type of award," said his daughter, Lena Rush. "It means more because it's from family. So, it really means a lot to him."

Not only does this mean a lot to Rush but to community as a whole.

"A lot of people that come into town and tour, they want to a know a little bit about the history. They spend days," said Alex Thomas, spokesman for the
Mississippi Blues Trail. "They go on tours and they go to these sites and they learn about the history. They go to the local venues where they can hear live entertainment and that usually turns into overnight in hotels and eating in restaurants. So, it can definitely bring money into a community."

Although the economic impact is good, local officials say this recognition means so much more.

"You can't even put a dollar amount on what it's worth to Philadelphia, Neshoba County," said Mayor Rayburn Waddell. "It's a healing process of recognizing Otis here in Philadelphia. It's just a big day in Philadelphia."

The Blues Trail project is being funded by federal grants and donations. Since last year, 28 markers have been unveiled. When completed in the next two years, 132 markers will have been unveiled in various parts of the state.

"The next phase will be the audio/video concept of the markers and also a printable map that people can pick up at welcome centers around the state and be able to journey the trail," said Thomas.

Meanwhile, the journey of the trail stopped Thursday in Philadelphia. It left more than just a marker, but also a memory that for many will never be forgotten.