Henderson and Chester County paid honor to a native son Friday, May 14, when, in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Tourism, a marker was unveiled recognizing Chester County as the birthplace of music legend Eddy Arnold.
The crowd gathered in Henderson’s Sue Shelton White Park for the celebration. Following remarks by local and state dignitaries and live music, Tennessee Commissioner of Tourism Development Mark Ezell unveiled the marker as a part of the state’s Music Pathways trail.
Chester County Mayor Barry Hutcherson and Henderson Mayor Bobby King welcomed the Arnold family and others who were in attendance. State representative Kirk Haston noted Arnold’s “incredible legacy.” He ended his remarks by quoting lines from “Anytime:”
“Anytime you say you want me back again,
That’s the time I’ll come back home to you.”
According to Ezell and the Tennessee Music Pathways website, the trail connects visitors to the people, places and genres that make Tennessee the Soundtrack of America. A statewide driving tour, the Pathways includes hundreds of landmarks across the state and spans seven genres of music: blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll.
Local musicians entertained by singing songs recorded by Arnold. Chester County High School freshman Hunt Pipkin, accompanied by Jarred Clayton, sang, “Make the World Go Away.” Blake Hopper, who has recently returned to Chester County, sang “Tennessee Stud,” and Kimberlie Wilbanks Hopper sang, “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye.”
Shannon Pollard, Arnold’s grandson, expressed the family’s appreciation for the day and the honor bestowed upon his grandfather. “He once told me,” Pollard said, “that he chose his farm in Brentwood because the land reminded him of Chester County.”
“What a beautiful day,” JoAnn Pollard, Arnold’s daughter said. “My sincere thanks to all involved. Words cannot express how much today meant.”
In addition to the Music Pathways marker, the guitar sculpture constructed by Chester County High School students who are dually enrolled at Tennessee College of Technology in Crump, Tennessee, was unveiled. Standing eight feet tall, the guitar is made of repurposed steel pipe and titled, “Pipe Dreams Come True.” Welding instructor Derick Gibbs and Nelson Daniels, one of the welding students, talked about their work on the sculpture.
Emily Johnson, executive director of Henderson/Chester County Chamber of Commerce, said the sculpture is intended to honor not only Arnold’s heritage, but also to encourage young musicians of today.