Often asked how he got his start in the â€œbusiness of being Southern,â€ Michael Andrew Grissom tells the story of when he was in the fifth grade and teachers were beginning to introduce the students to civics and history. He took his books home and started to wonder about the thing they called the â€œCivil War.â€ Finally, his mother sat him down and explained very concisely, â€œWell, let me tell you how it was. Lee was the good guy, and Grant was the bad guy.â€ And Grissom says â€œit stuck. I remain solidly convinced to this day that my mother was right.â€
Born and raised in South Central Oklahoma, Grissom's first calling was music. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in music education as well as minors in instrumental music and social studies from the University of Oklahoma. He then taught history and music for several years in secondary schools in Norman and Wynnewood, Oklahoma. After serving as a vocalist and pianist in several musical groups ranging from barbershop quartets to jazz bands, Grissom formed â€œThe Rebels,â€ a country music/gospel band that recorded in Nashville and traveled throughout Dixie.
A die-hard Southerner, Grissom's writing career began when he realized there were no all-inclusive books about the heritage of the South; and most importantly in this age of South-bashing, there were few, if any, modern-day books that presented the South in a positive light. Since he felt that it was high time for a strong defense of the South and that no Southern literary figure would write the needed books, he decided to take on that challenge.
Grissom began researching and writing at the same time and drew from his natural Southern background. He defined his goal as â€œto reinsure the South so that we don't give up any more of our flags, our traditions, and the celebration of our priceless legacy.â€ Beginning with Southern by the Grace of God, a celebration of things Southern; followed by The Last Rebel Yell, a call to the defense of Southern life against all those attempting to tear down Southern culture; and finally, When the South Was Southern, a reminiscence of bygone days, Grissom has compiled a comprehensive trilogy on the culture of the South that people have responded to with an enthusiastic, almost religious fervor.
A former member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, he is the recipient of several awards including the 1975 Oklahoma Heritage Award and the Jefferson Davis Medal. Moving from Nashville back to Wynnewood, Oklahoma, in 1994 after the death of his father, Grissom misses his music. But he stays busy with his full-time writing career and radio talk-show interviews, which are his â€œforte.â€ Grissom says, â€œWhen they start on the Southern stuff, the phones light up.â€