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DATE: May 18, 2001

CONTACT: Calvin Burns, 901/333-5338 or Marilyn Duncan, 333-4247

STCC Pays Tribute to WDIA's Ford Nelson

Southwest Tennessee Community College honored gospel on-air personality Ford Nelson Saturday, April 28, during a gospel concert at Mount Olive Cathedral Methodist Episcopal Church. The concert was a fund-raising event for the STCC Department of Nursing. It featured singers Cynthia Winthrop, Linda Pattman, and Michealyn Oby. The event was sponsored by The Regional Medical Center at Memphis.

Dr. Shiphrah Williams-Evans serves as Chair and Professor of the STCC Nursing Department. She said Nelson was honored for his contributions to gospel music as a veteran announcer for WDIA-AM-1070. "Mr. Nelson was most deserving of this special recognition," Dr. Williams-Evans observed. "For more than five decades, he has been instrumental in providing inspirational music to the Mid-South and the nation."

Nelson joined radio station WDIA in 1950 as B.B. King's piano player, and eventually established a long-running career as a gospel music DEE JAY. During that time, he has been involved in the careers of a number of well-known gospel recording artists who had broadcast on his various programs. They include: The Rev. Cleophus Robinson, Rev. T.L. James, The Southern Wonders, Evangelist Lula Collins, The Dixie Wonders and The Masonic Travelers.

In addition to his gospel music host role at the historic WDIA, Nelson also performed the duties of news reporter. He also worked as a reporter for The Tri-State Defender Newspaper, and as an announcer for the Memphis Public Library's radio station, WYPL.

Nelson, a native Memphian, is a product of the Memphis City Schools system. He is a graduate of Manassas High School and of LeMoyne College in Memphis. He is a U.S. Army veteran of World War II, and the devoted father of three children.

The highly-respected on-air personality has served on many local boards and commissions, and has received numerous awards and certificates. His honors include the prestigious Living Legend Award from the National Black Programmers Coalition.

Nelson is a member of Columbus Baptist Church in Memphis, where Rev. John J. Campbell serves as pastor. He has the distinction of serving as the first director of Multi-Media Ministry at Columbus. After more than 50 years, Brother Ford Nelson still hosts a gospel music program on Sundays at WDIA.

Southwest Tennessee Community College is a Tennessee Board of Regents institution.