Big Maybelle State Historical Marker

In 2018, the Jackson-Madison County Library sponsored a project, spearheaded by library staff members Mike Baker and Jack Wood, to obtain a Tennessee historical marker commemorating Mabel Louise "Big Maybelle" Smith (1924-1972), noted gospel and blues singer, from Jackson, Tennessee.  Her most notable recordings include "Candy" and the original version of "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On," later made famous by Jerry Lee Lewis.  Her career led her to sing at the famous Apollo Theatre in New York City.  At the time, there were no state funds available, and so the library initiated a fundraiser to collect the $1450 required to fund the marker.
The generosity of several donors enabled the Jackson-Madison Library to raise the necessary funds to pay for the marker, which was approved by the state on February 22, 2019. A check for the amount was sent to the Tennessee Historical Commission on March 11. The marker was finally unveiled on July 24, 2019, alongside a brief ceremony at the site, followed by a program and reception at the Legends of Tennessee Music Museum.

Big Maybelle's Relatives
Left of sign:  Eboni Ray (gr-granddaughter), her husband, Thomas Ray, Jr.,
and Haven Ray, age 2 (gr-gr-grandson)
Right of sign:  David Burgess (Maybelle's son-in-law),
Thomas Ray III, age 9 (gr-gr-grandson),
and the family dog

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