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Bologna Performing Arts Center

The supergroup The Time Jumpers will play at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

The Time Jumpers coming to BPAC

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The GRAMMY-nominated band The Time Jumpers, featuring Vince Gill, Kenny Sears and “Ranger Doug” Green will rock out at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

Tap any of the band members on the shoulder, and the face that turns to greet you will be that of one who has made major contributions to the richness and vigor of country music.

The special performance is locally sponsored by the Bolivar Medical Center.

The current edition of The Time Jumpers includes 10 members, each a master of his instrument. The group includes: Vince Gill (vocals, electric and acoustic guitars), “Ranger Doug” Green (vocals, acoustic rhythm guitar), Paul Franklin (steel guitar), Brad Albin (upright bass), Larry Franklin (fiddle), Andy Reiss (electric guitar), Kenny Sears (vocals, fiddle), Joe Spivey (fiddle, vocals) Jeff Taylor (accordion, piano) and Billy Thomas (drums, vocals).

Tragically, the band lost their 11th member, vocalist Dawn Sears, who passed away Dec. 11, 2014. Diagnosed with lung cancer in February of 2012, Sears fought the disease ferociously and championed efforts for lung cancer research.

The Time Jumpers established in Nashville in 1998 by an assemblage of high-dollar studio musicians who wanted to spend spare time jamming with their sonically gifted buddies. The notion of building a rabidly devoted following was the last thing on their minds — but that’s what happened. Learning that Monday evenings were the slowest of the week for the Station Inn bluegrass club, the superpickers settled into that fabled venue at the start of each week and set up shop. Pretty soon, Monday nights were sounding a lot like Saturdays, and drawing lively crowds.

As word spread along Music Row that something special was happening at Station Inn, big stars began dropping by, some to sit in with the band, others just to enjoy the vast array of country, swing, jazz and pop standards The Time Jumpers rejoiced in playing. Among those drop-bys were Bonnie Raitt, Reba McEntire, Norah Jones, Robert Plant, The White Stripes, Kings Of Leon, Jimmy Buffet and Kelly Clarkson.

After more than 10 years together, the band relocated their Monday night shows to 3rd & Lindsley, a larger capacity club in Nashville. In 2013, the band’s self-titled release on Rounder Records was nominated for two Grammys – Best Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group (Country), and Best Country Album. The band is currently recording their next record for Rounder Records.

Tickets are on sale to hear the supergroup, and are selling quickly. For more information, contact the Bologna Performing Arts Center Ticket Office at 662)-846-4626 or go online to www.bolognapac.com.

Delta State University  President William N. LaForge said the university is “solid and progressing quite well” in today's State of the University address.

LaForge envisions excellence in State of the University address

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Delta State University President William N. LaForge delivered the annual State of the University address during opening convocation today at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on campus.

The address was titled “On the Path to Excellence” and began with a welcome to faculty and staff as the university begins the new academic calendar and the 91st year of Delta State’s storied history.

LaForge characterized the state of the university as “solid and progressing quite well.”

“We are successfully tackling major budget and enrollment challenges, building on our strong programmatic foundations, and realizing growth in some key areas,” LaForge said in his opening. “I am bullish on Delta State and our future, and I am confident that we are on a path to excellence. It continues to be my distinct honor to serve you, our students and alumni, and our community.”

The president organized the bulk of his speech into six categories: academics, student recruitment and student success, business and finance, campus facilities and grounds, the Delta State family, and visioning — the next steps on the path to excellence.

LaForge said the institution’s academic standing remains strong following recent accreditation reaffirmation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

“This past year, we successfully completed institutional reaccreditation by SACSCOC, our national credentialing agency — a result that is critical to our very existence,” said LaForge.

While highlighting a number of academic achievements, the president also praised a number of programs showing significant progress.

“Across the academy, we are seeing growth — in nursing programs, social work, DMI Entertainment Industry Studies, geospatial, and pre-professional health related programs in the sciences; in masters programs in teaching, counseling, and health, physical education and recreation; and, in health care administration, commercial aviation, and computer information systems — all programs that continue to distinguish the university and attract more students.”

In relation to student recruitment, LaForge said the university understands the challenges it faces, but recruitment efforts will remain at the forefront.

“The marketplace for new students is very competitive, especially in light of the shrinking pool of Mississippi prospects, the success of certain Division I football teams last fall, and the attractiveness of community colleges because of their low tuition,” he said. “Recruitment continues to be a major priority for us because it is our lifeblood and it drives our revenue — tuition dollars plus credit hour production that factor into our state funding formula.”

Major efforts have been made university-wide to boost student success rates on campus. LaForge credited the Student Success Center, Academic Support Lab, Okra Scholars programing and the Early Alert Program for being critical to student retention.

In financial news, a focus of the administration the past couple years has been budget-cutting exercises. These exercises led to permanent budget cuts and program eliminations that will produce $1 million dollars in savings over the next year. Due to these savings, the university was able to offer pay raises to faculty and staff for the first time in years.

While tuition rates have held steady at $6,012 annually for the past three years, LaForge said the time is right to implement a tuition increase for the 2016-17 academic year. The additional revenue will help support another round of pay raises, faculty professional development, and other needs.

Turning to the campus environment, LaForge said there will be a number of physical improvements taking place at campus facilities. Multiple streets will be torn up and repaved, the dining hall will undergo a multi-million dollar facelift, Caylor/White-Walters renovations will be complete this academic year, and planning is underway for renovations at Zeigel Hall and the Walter Sillers Coliseum over the next few years. Reconstruction of the baseball stadium is nearing completion and will be dedicated in October.

In November, GRAMMY Museum Mississippi will open on campus, and the event is sure to draw visitors from around the globe. Delta State has entered into a formal educational partnership with the museum, which promises to bring outstanding programs in the years ahead.

LaForge then turned to matters involving the Delta State family and noted the loss of some very special people this past year, including Billie Breland, Joe Garrison, Henry Outlaw, Stan Sandroni, Dorothy Shawhan and Hugh Ellis Walker — all of whom were key members of the university family. All were honored with a moment of silence.

The president then announced the fifth Legend of Delta State, renowned baseball coach Dave “Boo” Ferriss, whose induction will be Oct. 3, in conjunction with the dedication of the new baseball stadium and of a statue in his honor.

In his final topic, LaForge discussed what it would take to elevate the university and its programs to the next level of success.

“At the recent President’s Cabinet Advance, we began a discussion of ‘big-think’ issues that will lay the foundation for our collective vision and the next steps on the path of excellence for Delta State,” said LaForge. “We focused on increasing academic distinction by ratcheting up support for student achievement and faculty professional development. We envisioned myriad future projects and programs — too many to mention here — that will help determine what Delta State looks like in 2025, our centennial year.”

Like the university community as a whole, LaForge remains hopeful of more positive growth at Delta State. He urged faculty and staff to be a constant source of inspiration.

“I ask you to grasp and follow a vision for what you do, to make a commitment to that vision, to see purpose in what you do each day, and to have passion in the way you do it,” said LaForge. “Go boldly into this new academic year to prepare the next generation for the realities of the world and what we all hope will be a bright future.”

The Bologna Performing Arts Center and GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi present “A Band of Legends Remembers Elvis,” hosted at the BPAC Aug. 24 at 7 p.m.

Elvis Presley band to perform at BPAC

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The Bologna Performing Arts Center and GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi are proud to present “A Band of Legends Remembers Elvis,” hosted at the BPAC Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. on the campus of Delta State University.

One of the most revered artists of the 20th century, Elvis Presley elevated early rock and roll to untold heights in America. However, he did not do it alone. Presley worked with a group of studio musicians so talented that they earned the name “A Band of Legends.”

A Band of Legends features guitarist James Burton, drummer Gene Chrisman, bassist Norbert Putnam, keyboardist Bobby Wood, and Memphis native and singer/songwriter Andy Childs on vocals. The group will perform some of the legendary songs they recorded with the King of Rock and Roll at the BPAC. Between the four musicians, they played on over 200 recordings with Presley.

“We are looking forward to coming to the Delta. I am bringing some great players with me,” said Putnam, who also put in a stint as the executive director of the Delta Music Institute during the early days of the program. “We will talk about Elvis, his artistry, his music and tell tales of our time with him. He changed music and took it in a different direction, and we were there as it happened.”

Proceeds from the show will benefit the BPAC’s Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute and GRAMMY Museum Mississippi’s education programs.

“Education is at the heart of both of our organizations’ missions, and we are delighted to have designated this event as a fundraiser for our educational programs,” said Laura Howell, BPAC executive director.

“The Band of Legends are top musicians that worked closely with Elvis for many years,” added Emily Havens, executive director of GRAMMY Museum Mississippi. “We are thrilled to be able to bring these musicians to Cleveland for a fantastic night to benefit our museum’s education programs.”

To purchase tickets, call the BPAC Ticket Office at 662-846-4626 or visit www.bolognapac.com. Tickets are $35 for the concert or $50 for VIP, which includes a ticket to the concert, post-show reception and a meet-and-greet with the band members.

Media interested in covering the event should RSVP to info@grammymuseumms.org.

MSAI PLUS Campers are all smiles as they rehearse on the BPAC main stage for their final performance July 18 at 10 a.m.

MSAI Plus campers prepare for finale

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Excitement has been high this week at the Bologna Performing Arts Center as the building is filled with over 100 campers ages 5-12 who have been singing, dancing and creating. These young artists are participating in the 2015 Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute PLUS Camp. MSAI is in its 18th summer of encouraging students to celebrate the arts.

Each year, the BPAC offers PLUS Camp to children who are interested in performing arts. The camp is a one-week, performance-oriented day camp centered on learning a choreographed medley of songs. 

The camp will culminate at 10 a.m. Saturday with a public performance on the BPAC’s main stage. The performance is free, open to the community and will last approximately one hour.

“It’s really fun how upbeat camp is,” said camper Ann Garner Scott, age 10. “I also like the choreography for the dances we do.”

Throughout the week, campers participate in daily classes of puppetry, prop design, music, storytelling and more. The week culminates with a public performance on Saturday. This year’s unifying theme is “Music that Rocked the World,” featuring Disney classics, groovy music from the ’60s and tunes from “Motown: The Musical.”

“I like puppetry because our teacher is really good at showing us how to make them,” said Caroline Murrell, age 6. “He made this dragon that actually scared me it was so good.”

Joannah Taylor, Arts Education coordinator at the BPAC, is thrilled with this year’s camp.

“We are having a wonderful week educating and deepening the campers’ appreciation of the arts,” said Taylor. “Our faculty is incredibly talented, our counselors are nurturing and encouraging and our campers are fantastic. We have a very talented group of campers this year and we are delighted to see all of their hard work come to fruition on Saturday.”

For more information about PLUS Camp, contact Taylor at 662-846-4844 or visit http://bolognapac.com/.

Storyteller Carrie Sue Ayvar, left,  works with PLUS Campers participating in this year's camp at the BPAC. The final performance for the camp is July 18 at 10 a.m. and is free and open to the community.

BPAC receives MAC grant

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The Bologna Performing Arts Center at Delta State University was recently awarded a mini-grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission that helped bring in award-winning storyteller Carrie Sue Ayvar as a faculty member at the Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute PLUS Camp held at the BPAC.

The finding is a portion of the $1.61 million in grants MAC will award in 2015-16. The mini-grant is made possible by the continued funding from the Mississippi state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“The Creative economy has never been more vibrant than it is today in the communities across Mississippi,” said Dr. Tom Pearson, MAC executive director. “This agency is honored to play a small role in assisting these organizations to continue their work of reinforcing the value of the arts and the role they play in creative place-making and economic development.”

The BPAC offers MSAI PLUS Camp every summer for campers ages 5-11. Throughout the week, campers participate in daily classes of puppetry, prop design, music, storytelling and more. The camp wraps up this year on July 18 at 10 a.m. with a final performance at the BPAC that is free and open to the community.

“Campers and counselors alike have enjoyed Carrie Sue Ayvar’s storytelling,” said Joannah Taylor, BPAC arts education coordinator. “She blends traditional and international tales together and effortlessly flows between Spanish and English. The campers are able to tell stories in Spanish after only a couple days. PLUS Camp has greatly been enhanced by having Mrs. Ayvar this year.”

Ayvar is thrilled to have the the opportunity to work with the campers.

“It’s a long trip for me to come here from South Florida, but it’s worth every little bit — Mississippi Magic, I call it,” said Ayvar. “These kids are amazing. I have 5, 6, 7, all the way up to 12-year-olds listening to stories so intently you couldn’t hear a thing. But they weren’t here in the room — they were wherever our story took us and that’s the magic of it.

“We have traveled all around the world to Mexico, to Europe. We have been on an adventure every single day. I have never seen so many kids that absolutely not only embraced the stories, but also embrace the art of storytelling to make it their own. It doesn’t get better than this.”

MAC, a state agency, serves Mississippians by providing grants that support programs to enhance communities; assist artists and arts organizations; promote the arts in education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. Established in 1968, MAC serves as an active supporter and promoter of arts in community life and in arts education.

Built in 1994, the BPAC offers a rich tapestry of cultural and educational programs to serve the Mississippi Delta region. For more information, visit www.bolognapac.com.