Duo promotes potential new state song


Jan Swoope



Songwriters Carolyn Sue Woods of Amory and John Riggs of Nashville, Tenn., are hoping the good people of the Magnolia State will one day soon be singing about "her fertile Delta bottom land to her coastline full of fine warm sand." The opening line of their song, "I Miss Mississippi," begins a melodic four-verse tour of the state often identified with its farming, music, magnolias and history. 


The pair are distributing the recording of their original song to radio stations across the state, laying groundwork for a planned pitch to the legislature to have it adopted as an official state song. 




"From her cities to her peaceful farms, 


And where the king of rock and roll was born, 


There''s just no end to all the charm ... of Mississippi." 




Starting young 


Woods is no stranger to the Golden Triangle. In fact, one might say she got her "start" here. 


"I hold Uncle Bunky solidly responsible for my music career," she laughed. "The first time I ever sang on TV was on the ''Uncle Bunky Show'' on WCBI; I was 7 years old." 


A friendship with Robert Williams of Columbus, the jovial host of "Fun Time with Uncle Bunky," blossomed. Later in life, it would be Williams who encouraged Woods to do a country music radio show at what was then West Point''s WBXZ. On "Carol Country," Woods would go on to do live interviews with chart-toppers including Conway Twitty, Charley Pride and Billy Joe Royal. 


"Uncle Bunky and I had became precious friends forever, and he was responsible for me having that show ... it was great fun," she said. 


Woods is actually better known in her hometown as Carol Hester than by the registered BMI songwriters'' name she''s had for more than three decades. With it, she had a Top 100 tune, "Out of My Dreams," in the 1980s, toured with her band and hosted a TV show in Tupelo. 




"Antebellums fill the countryside, 


Where evergreens spread far and wide; 


When I hear her name I''m filled with pride ... in Mississippi." 






Woods and Riggs met in Nashville in 1979. 


"John and his wife, Linda, are really super nice people, and we''ve been friends all these years," Woods remarked. 


Riggs is a successful veteran of the business, having had multiple songs recorded by artists including George Jones, Hank Snow, Loretta Lynn and Twitty. 


He has written nine personal stories featured in the book "American Music Legends" distributed by Cracker Barrel, and even did an STP commercial for TV with Johnny Cash. 


"We''ve written this song for the sole purpose of bringing attention to (Mississippi''s) many contributions. ... We feel we''ve captured the true essence of what makes the state special; it''s the most important thing of all, her people," he shared. 


Mississippi''s current state song is "Go Mississippi," written by William Houston Davis and adopted by the legislature in 1962. But, several states have more than one official song. 


Riggs is passionate about the cause. 


"I know this is a big undertaking for two songwriters who want this to be the state song, but we feel so strongly about its merits that we just can''t stop," he said. 




"And I miss Mississippi, 


Where the sweet magnolia''s growing, 


Soon as I can pack I''m going ... to Mississippi." 


Editor''s note: Portions of the lyrics of "I Miss Mississippi" are reprinted with permission. Contact John Riggs at [email protected]


Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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