DBM Stage Renamed in Honor of Melville C. Tillis, Sr.


March 13, 2013
Delta Blues Museum
Clarksdale, MS
The Tillis Family Beneath the New Sign:
Melville Charles Tillis Sr. Delta Blues Stage

Clarksdale's Downtown Stage Renamed in Honor of Melville C. Tillis, Sr.

On March 11, 2013, in honor of Melville Tillis, Sr., Clarksdale's Delta Blues Museum Stage has been renamed to the Melville Charles Tillis Sr Delta Blues Stage. Melville passed away on February 28, 2013. An avid supporter of the Delta Blues Museum and the community, Melville co-founded the Sunflower River Gospel Association with the late Julius Guy and was co-chairman of the Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival for numerous years.

Melville was named Clarksdale's 2011-2012 Citizen of the Year in honor of his avid support for his hometown. During his lifetime, he served as a community leader, educator, business leader, chairperson of the Clarksdale Public Utilities Commission and much more. He helped put Clarksdale on the map as an important historic center for blues and gospel music.

As a musician, he played trumpet with early musicians from Clarksdale including Ike Turner, and was acquainted with many other musicians including Bobby Rush, Little Milton Campbell, Clayton Love and many other that often played at the Rivermount Club, of which he was proprietor.

Melville Tillis was proud in his education background, as a teacher, coach and administrator for the Coahoma County School District. He was also an alumnus and former football star of Alcorn State University and was a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi for 63 years. The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority honored Tillis for Outstanding Community Service and he was also inducted into Alcorn State's Hall of Fame. His dedication to education is also supported through the Melville C. Tillis Scholarship by the Greenville Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi.

Members of the Tillis family and other principals include (from left) Shelley Ritter, director of the Delta Blues Museum, who spoke at the event; Alice Green, secretary to the mayor; celebrity entertainer Bobby Rush, a longtime friend; daughter Loria Tillis; Greg Toles, family friend; son Charles Tillis; Jean Tillis, wife of the honoree; Mayor Henry Espy; daughter Chawonea Tillis Presley; son Sandy Tillis, and daughter, Sandra Tillis Webb
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