Letter to the Editor 8 /19/2012 Sunflower Festival rockets Clarksdale into global recognition

Sunflower River Blues Association

Home of the

Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival

Post Office Box 1562, Clarksdale, MS 38614 – www.sunflowerfest.org

The Sunflower River Blues Association is a registered nonprofit 501 c 3 organization

Staffed entirely by volunteers; donations are tax-deductible

Letter to the Editor 8 /19/2012

    Sunflower Festival rockets Clarksdale into global recognition

Many thanks from the Sunflower River Blues Festival and Gospel Festival to all who rocketed our 25th anniversary into a global celebration matching Clarksdale’s distinguished blues and gospel heritage.

The largest crowd in Clarksdale history  – more than 20,000, according to veteran security officials for Homeland Security, county and city law enforcement, cheered quintessential rock star Robert Plant and his Sensational Space Shifters.

Praised by UK entertainment journalist Paul Sexton who flew to Clarksdale to cover the event for Billboard Magazine (read it online under “news” at billboard.com), the review cites Plant’s decision for placing his band’s U.S. debut at the Sunflower-  – “a free event in the Mississippi locale that has been his lifelong spiritual home.”

Sexton described Plant’s “stunning performance” for combining “cutting edge energy with historical exploration,” and concludes with Plant receiving an award for his services to the music of Clarksdale.

“ The recognition felt entirely mutual as summed up by his final words of the night – when he thanked the audience for their appreciation of ‘the living blues, “writes Sexton. His review appears also on www.robertplant.com.

Sexton’s invaluable gift of tourism marketing will be doubled when his profile of Plant is published in London’s “Daily Telegraph.”

It will be tripled when Mississippi Public Broadcasting airs its coverage on Clarksdale and Robert Plant, and quadrupled by CNN’s special program in December.

Add the work of 50 credentialed media professionals from Switzerland to Florida, and the Sunflower‘s impact becomes priceless and enriched additionally with the Mississippi Blues Trail marker honoring the festival ‘s  25-year dedication to preserving and promoting blues in its homeland.

Priceless also are the contributions from many, many supporters  who made this festival possible – musicians, sponsors, tourism officials, volunteers and workers, who heated and served “Grits, Greens, and Barbecue,”  Sunflower members who met weekly since October 2011 to stage this extravaganza, and to tireless security specialists who kept everyone safe: Homeland Security, City and County Law enforcement and Fire Department, 35 deputies from surrounding counties, Emergency  Management, Wood Security, Pafford, and Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center safety officials.

Special thanks also to our music fans for their encouragement and appreciation of the celebration. Soon we will begin planning for the next Sunflower scheduled August 9-10-11, 2013. We welcome and encourage new members to join us.  View additional festival coverage and photographs on the festival website: www.sunflowerfest.org.

Best wishes,

Melville Tillis and Maie Smith, co-chairmen; John Sherman, VIP chairman; Catherine Clark, treasurer;