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Country Songwriter's Family Donates Plaque to Southern Miss PDF Print E-mail
Monday, July 20, 2009
Contact Van Arnold - 601.266.5568   

Ben Peters never penned a country tune about his alma mater, but The University of Southern Mississippi certainly held a special place in the legendary songwriter’s heart.

Peters, who died in 2005 at the age of 71, wrote 14 No. 1 country hits, including “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” (by Charley Pride); “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” (by Freddy Fender) and “Daytime Friends” (by Kenny Rogers). In his 40-year career, Peters wrote more than 3,500 songs, many of which were recorded by other renowned artists such as Eddy Arnold, Conway Twitty, George Jones, Alan Jackson and Loretta Lynn.

Peters, a Hollandale native, graduated from Southern Miss (known then as Mississippi Southern College) in 1956 with a degree in business administration. His unwavering love for music took him to Nashville, Tenn., in 1962 and ultimately a songwriting deal with Shelby Singleton International publishing.

For the past few years, Justin Peters has been pondering the proper way to express appreciation to Southern Miss on behalf of his famous father. On July 17 he found just the right note by presenting the university with a commemorative plaque featuring a detailed biography of his father, an artist’s portrait of Ben Peters and a list of the 14 No. hits.

“The university had recognized him a few years earlier with a ceremony and I wanted to give something back because I knew that’s what he would want,” said Justin Peters, who represents songwriters as president of Songs For the Planet Inc., in Nashville.

“This place meant a lot to my father. He always loved to tell the story about meeting his wife (the former Jackie Macon) during the last five minutes he spent on campus.”

Southern Miss President Martha Saunders accepted the contribution and noted that there are students like Ben Peters “who have that fire in their belly and use that motivation to achieve greatness.”

Peters won a Grammy in 1972 for “Kiss an Angel Good Morning.”  The inspiration for the song came from his wife who would remind Peters to kiss his daughter, Angela (nicknamed Angel), every morning before leaving for work.

Peters was named Billboard Magazine’s “Best Male Country Writer” in 1973 and Songwriter of the Year by the Nashville Songwriters Association in 1975.

Randy Neely, left, a singer/songwriter from McComb, presents a collection of country music classics written by Southern Miss alumnus Ben Peters to university president Martha Saunders as Peters’ son Justin looks on. Among many hit songs, Ben Peters wrote “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” which earned him a Grammy in 1972. (Southern Miss photo by Danny Rawls)

About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities.  In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world.  Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.
 
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