Jimmie Rodgers

The Singing Brakeman
Birth Name:
James Charles Rodgers
Birth Date:
September 8, 1897
Birth Place:
Meridian, Mississippi
Death Date:
May 26, 1933
Place of Death:
Taft Hotel, New York, New York
Cause of Death:
Cemetery Name:
Oak Grove Baptist Church Cemetery
Claim to Fame:
Jimmie Rodgers was an American singer, songwriter and musician who rose to popularity in the late 1920s. Widely regarded as "the Father of Country Music", he is best known for his distinctive rhythmic yodeling. During his all-to brief career, Rodgers was known as "The Singing Brakeman" and "America's Blue Yodeler". Born in 1897 in Meridian, Mississippi, Jimmie learned to play guitar while working on the railroad as a water boy and brakeman. He was influenced by the music played and the songs sung by the African American railway workers he met at the railway yard and around town – their call-and-response singing style during work and the blues songs they sang made a distinctive mark on Rodgers’ sound. He also spent time in Meridian’s opera house, vaudeville theaters, and hotels where he heard jazz, parlor music, and popular tunes, all of which also provided inspiration. During what later became known as the Bristol sessions, Rodgers recorded solo as he was deserted by his band after a disagreement. A second session with Rodgers was later arranged in Camden, New Jersey, that produced "Blue Yodel No. 1 (T for Texas)". The song became a success and it propelled Rodgers to national fame, while it assured him a recording career that produced over 100 songs for the label. As the Father of Country Music, Jimmie Rodgers has been inducted into The Country Music Hall of Fame, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Blues Hall of Fame, The Songwriters Hall of Fame, The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Alabama Music Hall of Fame and the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone magazine placed Rodgers at number 11 on the 100 Greatest Country Artists of All Time list.

The Final Recording Session

Rodgers and his personal nurse, Cora Bedell, arrived on May 14, 1932 in New York City on board of the SS Mohawk. Peer left the singer to rest at his usual lodging, the Taft Hotel, for a few days before the session. Meanwhile, he assigned Rodgers a driver known as Castro. The recording session in charge of Fred Maisch begun on May 17, at Victor’s New York studios at 153 E 24th Street. During the first two days, Rodgers recorded six numbers while the state of his health often paused the session: the singer sat on an easy chair and he was helped by pillows to reach the microphone. A new session was scheduled for May 24, 1933. Rodgers produced four songs while he needed to lie on a cot between takes. At the end of the day, he was helped into a cab and he returned to the hotel. The next day, he recovered and then visited Coney Island with his driver. When returning, Rodgers decided to walk the last few blocks to the hotel until he needed help to return to his room. He then suffered of an intense cough that stopped. At midnight, he resumed coughing, and he began to hemorrhage. The hotel’s doctor could not be found and Castro, who was out on an errand, returned too late to take him to a hospital. Rodgers fell in a coma, and he died soon after.

Cemetery Information:

Final Resting Place:

Oak Grove Baptist Church Cemetery

801 Oak Grove Drive

Meridian, Mississippi, 39301


North America

Grave Location:

Rodgers Family Plot

Grave Location Description

From Azalea Drive, at the fork in the road, veer left onto Oak Grove Road. The cemetery will be on the right just past the church. The grave is in the front (about 30 feet from the road), just behind the red Mississippi Country Music Trail marker dedicated to America’s Blue Yodeler Jimmie Rodgers.

Grave Location GPS

32.368020, -88.660015

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