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Shelandra Y. Ford
Historical Markers of Shelby County

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James A. Hyter, "Ol' Man River"

Born in Athens, Alabama, on February 2, 1922, James Alfred Hyter moved to Memphis with his family when he was one week old. From 1978 to 1998, he sang "Ol Man River" in his deep, resonant voice at the annual Memphis-in-May Sunset Symphony Orchestra. He was accompanied by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, conducted first by Vincent de Frank and from 1984 by Alan Balter. At this picturesque site on the mighty Mississippi, tens of thousands of fans clamored for encore after encore. However, Hyter's contribution to Memphis was much more than a song, because his stirring performances brought diverse people together in common celebration of life on the Mississippi River.