Delta Music Institute

The DMI All-Stars — a student band that covers songs of Mississippi GRAMMY-winning music — rocked the stage during the annual Mississippi Night at GRAMMY Week in Los Angeles on Feb. 11.

DMI All-Stars rock Los Angeles

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The anticipation leading up to GRAMMY® Museum Mississippi in Cleveland continues to bring life-changing opportunities for students enrolled in the Delta Music Institute at Delta State University.

For the fourth year in a row, the DMI All-Stars — a student band that covers songs of Mississippi GRAMMY-winning music — rocked the stage during the annual Mississippi Night at GRAMMY Week in Los Angeles on Feb. 11.

This year’s group of students grew to eight performing band members and four non-members who assisted with road management, social media and tech support. According to DMI Director Tricia Walker, the entire group put on a stellar show at the Clive Davis Theater inside the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. Live.

“This year the DMI All-Stars were given an opening slot for GRAMMY nominated artists Cedric Burnside and the legendary Bobby Rush,” said Walker. “The students, under the direction of instructor Charly Abraham, put together a 30-minute show and knocked it out of the park.”

The audience was filled with a number of dignitaries, tourism leaders, politicians and special guests who gathered to listen to talented aspiring musicians and to honor the history and culture associated with the birthplace of American music.

The Cleveland Music Foundation, the community-based organization partnering with GRAMMY to establish the new museum in Cleveland, first invited the All-Stars to perform at Mississippi Night in early 2013.

Scheduled for a March 5 grand opening, GRAMMY Museum Mississippi will become only the second museum of its kind in the world. This unique partnership is already reaping benefits for DMI students. Brittany McGee, entertainment industry major from Ecru, Mississippi served as the group’s tour manager and was responsible for all travel logistics and bookings.

“This trip helped me to realize how important it is to always be prepared because anything can happen,” said McGee.

Gregory Braggs, a senior at the DMI, travelled with the group as tech support.

“It was an awesome opportunity,” said Braggs. “I never guessed that I would get the chance to experience Los Angeles and to see where the GRAMMYs are held each year.”

Along with the group’s big performance, they also had the opportunity to tour the L.A. museum, explore the city and beach, and visit Disneyland.

“What I really hope our students get out of this is that it’s possible to come from a small town and succeed in this industry,” said Walker. “You can start anywhere, and after visiting Los Angeles, I think they’re beginning to believe that. The DMI All-Stars are great ambassadors for the DMI program and Delta State University. We look forward to developing intern partnerships with GRAMMY Museum at L.A. Live through GRAMMY Museum Mississippi.”

Delta State President William N. LaForge, who also attended the trip, was blown away by the accomplishments of the students.

“I was so proud of our DMI students’ performance at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles during GRAMMY Week,” he said. “The DMI All-Stars lit up the Clive Davis Theater with tunes that had everyone singing along and dancing in their seats. They were a huge hit and a grand addition to the talent showcase that evening.”

To learn more about the GRAMMY connection with the Delta Music Institute at Delta State, visit

Robert Khayat (left) and J. Fred Knobloch will be featured on the Thacker Mountain Radio Show Feb. 27 at 3 p.m. at the Delta Music Institute.

Thacker Mountain Radio returns to DMI

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The Delta Music Institute entertainment industry program at Delta State University will host the award-winning Thacker Mountain Radio Show Feb. 27 at 3 p.m. in DMI Studio A in the Whitfield Building on campus. This marks the eighth year for the Thacker in the Delta event, which serves as a fundraising event in support of DMI programming and the Duff Dorrough Memorial Scholarship fund.

This year’s featured author will be University of Mississippi Chancellor Emeritus Robert C. Khayat, reading from his book, “The Education of a Lifetime,” a compelling memoir about his childhood days in Moss Point, Mississippi, the state’s segregationist policies that prevented his SEC championship baseball team from playing in the College World Series, and the sadness of experiencing his father’s arrest and guilty plea.

Khayat is a former college football all-star, All-Pro kicker for the Washington Redskins, law professor and president of the NCAA Foundation. He holds degrees from Ole Miss and Yale University, and was an Academic All-American football and baseball player while at Ole Miss. He has received the NFL Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the National Football Foundation Distinguished American Award. Khayat served as the 15th chancellor of the University of Mississippi from 1995-2009.

Featured musician for this year’s show will be award-winning Mississippi singer-songwriter J. Fred Knobloch.

Knobloch, a Jackson native, began performing at the age of 13 when he and some friends formed a band to play at school. After leaving school to play music full-time, he began performing solo at nightclubs across the South and landed work as a session guitarist at MALACO Studios in Jackson, working for such R&B notables as Dorothy Moore, Eddie Floyd and Anita Ward.

It was at Malaco that he met drummer James Stroud and pianist Carson Whitsett, who encouraged Knobloch’s writing and performing. The encouragement paid off when “WHY NOT ME,” co-written with Whitsett and produced by James Stroud, reached No.1 on the Billboard AC chart and No.18 on HOT 100. After a two-year stint in Los Angeles, Knobloch home to the South and relocated to Nashville, where he currently resides.

As an artist, session musician and songwriter, Knobloch found success with Thom Schuyler and Craig Bickhardt, forming the group SKB, who claimed a No. 1 country record with “Baby’s Got A New Baby,” co-written by Knobloch with fellow Mississippian Dan Tyler.

His songs have been included on gold and platinum selling records by artists Faith Hill, George Strait, Delbert McClinton, Etta James, Ray Charles, Lorrie Morgan, John Anderson, Trisha Yearwood, Neal McCoy, Confederate Railroad, Sawyer Brown, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Kenny Rogers.

In addition to this year’s featured guests, DMI Director Tricia Walker will sing and DMI’s newest band, B4Y2K, will perform hits from the ’90s. Thacker Mountain Radio is hosted by Jim Dees and features the show’s talented house band, The Yalobushwhackers.

Thacker in the Delta is open to the public at no charge, but gifts and donations to the Friends of DMI fund are encouraged. For online giving, please visit and search for Delta Music Institute.

The Delta Music Institute is an independent center of study under the College of Arts & Sciences at Delta State University, offering a bachelors degree in Entertainment Industry Studies. The focus of the DMI is to provide students with a broad and thorough education in the technological, creative and business areas of the music and entertainment industry. For information, contact 662-846-4579 or visit

The DMI All-Stars will perform at Delta Night at Hal & Mal’s in Jackson on Jan. 30 at 7 p.m.

Mississippi Delta Night in the capital city

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The Delta Music Institute entertainment industry studies program at Delta State University will host its sixth “Delta Night at Hal & Mal’s” in Jackson on Jan. 30 at 7 p.m.

Delta Night promotes the music of Mississippi by featuring musical performances by multiple entertainers from Delta State University’s entertainment industry studies program. Featured performers for the evening will be the DMI All-Stars, a select group of Delta State students who will be performing Feb. 11 for Mississippi Night during GRAMMY Week in Los Angeles, California.

The DMI will also bring three additional student bands to perform at the Jan. 30 Jackson event. Ol’ Skool Revue is an R&B/funk/soul/blues band playing the hits of Motown, Memphis and Muscle Shoals, while DeltaRoX delivers chart-topping songs from the genre of classic rock. The newest DMI band is B4Y2K, covering hits from the ’90s.

“The entertainment industry studies program at Delta State University is growing, offering courses in recording technology, music business, songwriting, production and much more,” said Tricia Walker, DMI director. “Our studio facilities are second to none, and our connection to the soon to be opened GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi will be unique. That fact added to an interactive, small college experience with low student-to-instructor ratio, offers students a one-of-a-kind learning environment. The DMI program is structured to offer students hands-on, project-based learning opportunities as often as possible, including working in real recording sessions and at actual festivals and live venues. You can’t beat that for an educational experience.”

There will be a $5 cover charge for the “Delta Night at Hal & Mal’s” event, which is located at 200 Commerce St. in Jackson. For more information, contact Hal & Mal’s at 601-948-0888 or the Delta Music Institute at 662-846-4579.

The DMI is an independent center of study under the College of Arts and Sciences at Delta State University, offering a bachelor’s degree in entertainment industry studies. The focus of the DMI is to provide students with a broad and thorough education in the technological, creative and business areas of the music and entertainment industry. For information, visit


Levitt AMP returning to campus and community in 2016

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For the second year in a row, Delta State University has been selected to host the Levitt AMP Grant Awards, a 10-week series of concerts created in 2014 by Levitt Pavilions and the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation.

Levitt AMP brings the joy of free, live music to people of all ages and backgrounds living in small to mid-sized towns and cities, transforming neglected public spaces into thriving community destinations.

The grant provides a $25,000 matching fund to provide the free outdoor concerts featuring a diverse lineup of professional musicians. The Delta Music Institute at Delta State will once again take the lead on this unique platform. The schedule will kick off in the fall season, and dates and artists will be announced at a later date.

Like last year, the Green Space on the Crosstie Walking Trail in downtown Cleveland will act as the venue for the 10 performances. The space offers an ideal destination where the entire community can gather to celebrate the Delta’s rich musical legacy and the historic launch of GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, opening on Delta State’s campus in March.

Cleveland amassed enough online voting support to bring the series back to town, an opportunity that will be provided to only 14 other communities across the nation.

Robin Boyles, director of the Office of Institutional Grants at Delta State, took the lead on the grant application last year, and worked hard to secure the series again in 2016.

“Knowing how the concert series impacted the Cleveland community last year made it personally challenging for me to do all that I could to develop a quality application that the Levitt Foundation could support for a second year,” said Boyles. “This second grant would not have been funded if not for the great work of the DMI in producing the series, and the incredible support of the city of Cleveland, the Cleveland Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, and the Cleveland community. The enthusiasm, community support and the strong partnerships is what has made this successful.”

Boyles was quick to point out that this is a matching grant, meaning that in addition to the $25,000 provided by Levitt, it is expected that the community also contributes financial resources.

“We are required to raise an additional $12,500,” she said. “We are seeking sponsors and will be announcing sponsorship packages in the next few weeks. If you or your business is interested in being a sponsor, please contact Tricia Walker of the DMI at or 662-846-4579.”

Walker and fellow DMI instructors are credited with guiding their students in making last year’s lineup a success. DMI students will once again play a major role in the production process — from securing talent, to providing sound and lighting at the concerts.

Amber Foster, a DMI entertainment industry studies graduate in December, produced the 2015 series lineup for her senior project. In the role, she booked, organized and managed all 10 concerts.

“It’s so exciting as a senior to be able to take on a project like this,” said Foster. “For an entertainment industry student, this is the kind of experience we dream of and hope to have. Although, it is a huge responsibility to take on something like this when you have other classes, work, etc. It was so much fun.”

Foster now serves as the administrative assistant/patrons coordinator at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on campus, and she looks forward to supporting the 2016 Levitt campaign in any way she can.

“I’d like to give a huge shoutout to the community, sponsors, partners, voters and volunteers who made it happen,” she added. “Music is moving our community forward, and its only going to get better.”

The concert series will reflect three goals defined by Levitt Pavilions — to amplify community pride and the city’s unique character; enrich lives through the power of free live music; and illustrate the importance of vibrant public places.

In addition to Levitt AMP, Levitt forms the only national network of nonprofit outdoor music venues, each presenting 50-plus free concerts every year. Within the region is the Levitt Shell ( in Memphis, Tennessee. Learn more about locations and impact:

Stay tuned to for lineup updates and sponsorship news. Learn more about Levitt AMP at

FOR Poster-Hi-Res

Fighting Okra Records to finalize artist search

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Fighting Okra Records, a student-run record label at Delta State University, continued its search to find a new artist for the 2015-16 academic year by holding a performance showcase on Nov. 3 at the Delta Music Institute.

The event was held to review the five finalists competing to sign with FOR. The showcase was closed to the public, and the live performances were viewed by label members in order to give the artists a more realistic experience in dealing with record label executives.

FOR’s artist and repertoire team served as judges for the live performances and conducted the interviews that followed on Nov. 10. The artists were asked to perform two songs, one of which was included in the artist’s video submission.

An announcement of this year’s winner will be made following Thanksgiving break.

“We are excited about all the talent that came out to audition,” said Mic Hargrove, vice president of the label’s A&R team. “This is definitely going to be a hard decision.”

The interview portion of the competition served as a final step in the selection process. The interviews allowed the label members to determine which artist was the total package.

FOR is the driving component of the DMI’s Record Label Practicum course. The mission of FOR is to provide a practical, real-world music industry experience to the students and to provide a variety of independent artists with professional quality music industry services in an effort to expose their name in recordings to the broadest possible audience.

The Delta Music Institute is an independent center of study under the College of Arts & Sciences of Delta State University. The focus of the DMI is to provide students with a broad and thorough education in the technological, creative and business areas of the music and entertainment industry. For more information, contact Fighting Okra Records at 662-846-4579 or