In my novel Yoga Bootcamp, Jaya’s guru is a native of Memphis, there on the Mississippi River.
And much of the action in my novels Nearly Canaan and The Secret Side of Jaya takes place in Arkansas, right across the river.
It’s more influential than I’d thought.
Here are ten tidbits.
- It’s populous. With a metro population of more than 1.3 million, Greater Memphis is the most populous locality in Tennessee. However, the city itself has 650,000 residents, making it second behind Nashville.
- FedEx headquarters. The airport is the world’s second-biggest cargo operation.
- The river. The busy shipping port moves 11 million tons of cargo a year, much of it arriving by train or truck.
- King Cotton. Half of the nation’s cotton is traded at the Cotton Exchange on the riverfront.
- Music. Sun Records (founded in 1950) became the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s. It was the first label to record Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash. It was sold in 1969 and eventually moved to Nashville. Meanwhile, Stax Records (1959-1976) was a fountain of the Memphis Sound, mixing blues, rhythm and blues, and soul.
- Graceland. Presley’s mansion is visited by 600,000 tourists each year. In America, only the White House attracts more.
- Civil rights. The motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in 1968 now houses the National Civil Rights Museum, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate.
- Edible flesh: The city is the largest livestock and meatpacking center in the South.
- Fire up: The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest each May offers $110,000 in prizes.
- Namesake: It’s named for the city on the Nile in Egypt.
Ever been there? What struck your fancy?