Singing Without Shame | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Singing Without Shame

Jill Conner Browne, The Sweet Potato Queen, and I are pulling thick wires out of glittered sweet potatoes on a farm in Clinton. Inside a barn, two Sweet Potato Queens, two Spud Studs and the Head SPQ Wannabe are diligently painting, glittering and prettying up the Official Parade Float for the 25th Annual Mal's St. Patrick's Day Parade. A hospital in Arkansas has given Jill a throne, which sparkles with obvious adoration and appreciation, to place on this year's float. If you've heard Jill Conner Browne speak, or know her at all, you can appreciate this token of affection. Jill says she "brings Jesus to folks who cuss like sailors," and she ceaselessly travels to tell others to "Do what makes your heart sing." She is the thinking and laughing woman's Beth Moore or Joyce Meyer.

Today, she lets me help with the Sweet Potato Queen float. I feel like the little girl in those '80s commercials: "It's Shake and Bake! And I helped!"

So where were you in 1982?
I was in a parade. I was on the back of a green pick-up truck from Anglin Sweet Potato Farms, smiling and waving and throwing sweet potatoes.

Yeah. We have a bunch of sparkled sweet potatoes here today.
Yes. Hand-painted by us. Thousands. We don't have any hired help. We're it. We've been doing this since I got home from book tour.

So would you advise people to duck at this year's parade?
Oh no. We will be tossing them gently, mostly handing them to special people.

Like collector's items?
Yes, but they won't stay collected for very long.

Well, I've been thinking about you and the whole "The Secret" craze. I mean, you had that way before Oprah started promoting all these other folks. Really, folks shouldn't spend their money on DVDs. They should just come to Jackson.
Absolutely! It's all positive mental attitude stuff. I mean, Norman Vincent Peale and W. Clement Stone and Zig Zeigler and everybody's been saying (it). I mean Bob Richards has been saying it for thousands of years, but if somebody else can make another buck selling another book on it, then good for them.

The one thing I've taken issue with is that to lose weight, you just don't look at fat people. What about the fat one in the mirror I see?

Exactly! I'd just have to move out of my house.
Yes. That's the whole humor of the Sweet Potato Queens; that's just the vehicle by which the message is delivered, which is "Do what makes your heart sing." Take time to play in your life. It's one of the most important things you can do for yourself. It has magical powers of healing and restoration.

Did you have that positive mental attitude in 1982?
Yes, I was ready for it. That's what I was looking for in 1982, something to amuse myself, and that has not changed. You know, my daughter Bailey is 19, and she's never known a world without Sweet Potato Queens. As far as she knows, this is just what mothers do in March.

It's been a great thing to see it grow, and for other people to come and enjoy it as much as I always have. People ask me all the time if I ever envisioned it would grow into something like this and be so big. Well, I like to say it was my five-year plan, but really, I didn't care. I was doing it then to entertain myself, and I'm doing it today to entertain myself.

The fact that there are tens of thousands of people there now is hilarious because it doesn't feel any different to us. They were always there in our minds. We were always acting like it was a ticker tape parade—like in New York, although the people who are actually here do spend a lot more money than our imaginary friends. It's very good for the community that there are real people here now.

The CVV says that one day is a $5 million day. So that's a good thing, plus the benefit for Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital. There's no downside to it.

How about Bert Case being Grand Marshall this year?
Oh, it's perfect. You know they tried to get him to do it the first year, and he wouldn't because he thought it would be bad for his reputation. He was ashamed of us.

Previous Comments

ID
84872
Comment

Hey y'all. Here's my husband's sideline pictures from yesterday's parade. Estimated 60,000 people! It was a perfect day for the most perfect parade. http://s129.photobucket.com/albums/p238/emilybraden/

Author
emilyb
Date
2007-03-18T12:56:01-06:00
ID
84873
Comment

none of the pictures have captions.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-03-18T13:00:07-06:00
ID
84874
Comment

Sure don't :) What's your point? Like I'm going to caption 200 + pictures of mostly folks I don't know. I did caption folks I had the info on. I'm sure someone here has more professional ones. These are my husband on the side with kids catching beads. :)

Author
emilyb
Date
2007-03-18T13:12:26-06:00
ID
84875
Comment

I dunno.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-03-18T13:13:48-06:00
ID
84876
Comment

I finally saw my first Hal's St. Patty's Parade, thanks to the grandkids being in town. I don't know what to think of it. It was fun, I guess!

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-03-19T08:16:43-06:00
ID
84877
Comment

It's getting too risque for the kids, so we didn't go. On top of that, our son is grounded for a week. He'll learn... eventually. :)

Author
Lady Havoc
Date
2007-03-19T08:35:37-06:00

Like independent media outlets around the world, the Jackson Free Press works hard to produce important content on a limited budget. We'd love your help! Become a JFP VIP member today and/or donate to our journalism fund. Thanks for considering a JFP VIP membership or one-time support.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus