Celebrating One of the Arkansas Delta’s Own Sons

Kimberly J. Williams   
Today’s blog might be a little self-serving, but I wanted to wish one of my all-time favorite performers a happy birthday! It just so happens that this gentleman, who would go on to world-wide fame and win countless awards, was born and raised in the Arkansas Delta. He is a true legend!
So…happy 70th birthday to the amazing Mark Lavon Helm, later to become known as Levon!!! Born May 26, 1940, in Elaine, Levon Helm spent his childhood in Turkey Scratch, now home to this Arkansas Delta Music Trail sign (left) dedicated to him and his musical legacy.
Levon has never lost his love for music. The photos of him are from a concert I attended just a few weeks ago. And that voice…whether he’s talking or singing, you recognize that voice!! The first DVD I bought was Coal Miner’s Daughter just so I could hear Levon speak (note…according to the director, that’s Levon leading the choir in the scene of Loretta’s dad’s funeral!).
A new documentary, entitled Ain’t In It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm, premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX, in March. Next month, the film will be featured at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
He’s won countless Grammy awards, both with The Band and on his own.  He’s a member of the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He never forgot his roots. During the concert last month, he mentioned Phillips County and Arkansas at least 30 times!! As the old saying goes, “I’d pay to hear him read the phone book!”
Happy Birthday to you, Mark Lavon Helm!!! But you’ll ALWAYS be Levon to us!
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