California native Merle Haggard may not have actually been an "Okie from Muskogee," but that very city will soon award the influential singer-songwriter with a special honor.

On Wednesday (March 29), the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and the Merle Haggard Statue Committee announced their plans to install a bronze statue of the late country star's likeness. The sculpture will be placed on the grounds of the Muskogee Civic Center, where Haggard recorded his first live album, Okie from Muskogee, in 1969.

City officials hope the statue will serve as a stop for sightseeing country fans and tourists, including visitors to the nearby Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, which Haggard was inducted into in 1997.

"It is undeniable that to this day, over 50 years after the release of the record, people around the world still know Muskogee because of that song," Sue Harris, the former president and CEO of the Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce.

Although funding for the project has already been secured, the Hall of Fame and Statue Committee are still searching for professional artists to help bring the sculpture to life. A single artist or team of artists can submit their names for consideration now. Those interested in creating a design for the statue are asked to offer their own version of what "would best honor Merle Haggard, compliment the site, while being mindful of context, safety, and durability."

 

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