Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Social Business Challenge is today in Jackson

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JACKSON — Students from Mississippi Public Universities will present their ideas for addressing one of Mississippi’s most pressing problems: Obesity and related health issues in the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Social Business Challenge, which will be held on Wednesday, February 10, 2016.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi is the title sponsor for the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Social Business Challenge, which gives teams of students the opportunity to showcase their ideas, creativity and ingenuity as they present plans for businesses focused on reducing obesity and related health issues rather than making a profit.

Each team has developed a business plan, which will be presented to the judges in a brief oral presentation at the Institutions of Higher Learning Board Room, 3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, on Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. The Awards Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. in the Second Floor Rotunda at the State Capitol.

Open to any public university student, the challenge requires students to work in teams of three to six with at least one faculty adviser. Eleven teams, representing each public university, Alcorn State University’s School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences, Mississippi State University’s Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine and the University of Mississippi Medical Center, will compete. The teams may enlist the assistance of professionals or alumni that have expertise in the topic or in building a business plan.

“Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi is pleased to support the Social Business Challenge and its efforts in encouraging the next generation of Mississippians to think creatively and strategically to support a healthy Mississippi,” said Sheila Grogan, Vice President, Community and Public Relations with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi. “We appreciate the vision of these students as they develop plans to build a healthy Mississippi.”

Now in its second year, the Challenge asks each team to outline how the proposed business will help reach one of the nine goals identified by Blueprint Mississippi. In 2012, Blueprint Mississippi, an independent cooperative of organizations and leaders, conducted an objective review of Mississippi’s economic opportunities and recommended actions for putting Mississippi in the place of greatest opportunity. This included enabling a more prosperous, vibrant and resilient Mississippi built upon a foundation of economic opportunity for all citizens.

The nine Blueprint Mississippi goals include:

  1. Increase the Educational Achievement of Mississippians
  2. Cultivate a More Robust Workforce in Mississippi
  3. Strengthen and Expand Mississippi’s Economy
  4. Promote Health Care as an Economic Driver
  5. Support Mississippi’s Creative Economy
  6. Continually Develop the Infrastructure for a Competitive Economy
  7. Increase Availability of Financial Capital
  8. Cultivate Diversity, Community Cooperation and Racial Reconciliation
  9. Improve Communication and Coordination Among Public, Private and Non-profit Leaders

In addition to encouraging students to develop ideas for Mississippi’s most pressing problems, the Challenge also aims to support learning important lessons about planning, teamwork and presenting ideas.

More information is posted online:

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Special Event to take place during GRAMMY® Week in Los Angeles on Thursday, Feb. 11, and feature performances by GRAMMY®-nominated Blues Legend Bobby Rush, current GRAMMY nominees the Cedric Burnside Project, the DMI All-Stars, and rising country trio Southern Halo

GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi and Visit Mississippi Announce Mississippi Night at The GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE

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GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi announces Mississippi Night will take place on Feb. 11, 2016 at the GRAMMY Museum at L. A. LIVE in Los Angeles. This event has become an integral part of GRAMMY® Week activities and allows Mississippi to showcase its musical talent underscoring why the state is seen as the Birthplace of American Music.

Performing at this year’s event is rising country trio Southern Halo, the DMI All-Stars, the GRAMMY-nominated Cedric Burnside Project, and blues legend Bobby Rush.

“This event highlights Mississippi and its achievements, and also promotes the state as a tourist destination,” said Emily Havens, Executive Director of GRAMMY Museum Mississippi. “Evening activities will begin with a reception on the Museum’s rooftop terrace, hosting Mississippi music, film, and tourism industry professionals, GRAMMY Award winners, and others, and culminates with performances in the Museum’s intimate Clive Davis Theater.”

Prior to the evening’s performances, GRAMMY Museum Mississippi will lead an education program for Los Angeles students utilizing music and film that illustrates and celebrates Mississippi and its contributions to the arts. The education program will also feature special performances.

“The DMI All-Stars are great ambassadors for the Delta Music Institute’s entertainment industry program, and Delta State University. What I really hope our students get out of this opportunity is that it’s possible to start anywhere, even a small town, and succeed in this industry,” said Walker.

About GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi
Set to open on March 5, 2016, GRAMMY Museum Mississippi is affiliated with the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE and will share its mission to celebrate the enduring legacies of all forms of music, the creative process, the art and technology of the recording process, and the history of the premier recognition of excellence in recorded music — the GRAMMY® Award. In addition, GRAMMY Museum Mississippi will focus on continuing achievements of Mississippians. The Museum will house interactive exhibits dedicated to its mission, as well as host educational programs for students of all ages. For more information about GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, please visit, follow @GRAMMYMuseumMS on Twitter and Instagram, and like “GRAMMY Museum Mississippi” on Facebook.

About the Artists
Bobby Rush is an 82-year-old legendary R&B, soul, funk, and blues artist with the energy and performance style like he’s in his prime. Rolling Stone magazine calls Bobby Rush “The King of the Chitlin’ Circuit” for his constant touring and vibrant live show on a circuit that has been home to Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, James Brown, and other black entertainers. As a result, the Blues Music Awards named him B.B. King Entertainer of the Year for 2014. Just released is his first-ever box set titled Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History on Bobby Rush with 74 recordings on four CDs from 1964-2014 from 20 labels, with three new songs, outtakes, and testimonials from his friends Mavis Staples, Elvin Bishop, Keb’ Mo’, Al Bell, David Porter, and more. In 2006 he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and from 2014-2015 he garnered back-to-back GRAMMY nominations and Blues Music Awards.

Cedric Burnside Project epitomizes the unique sound that originates in the Hill Country of North Mississippi. Cedric Burnside began playing drums for his grandfather, the legendary R.L. Burnside, when he was only 13 years old. His uncle, Garry Burnside (R.L.’s youngest son), got his start as the bass player for Junior Kimbrough at his world famous juke joint in Chulahoma, Miss. Trenton Ayers also got his start at that juke joint. His father was Kimbrough’s original bass player and Ayers learned by watching his dad and the older guys who played there every Sunday night, including Cedric and Garry. Cedric, Garry, and Ayers collaborated to create Descendants of Hill Country, which is a love letter to their families and the hypnotic beat that echoes through North Mississippi Hill Country.

The DMI All-Stars, a student band selected from Delta Music Institute Entertainment Industry Studies majors, covers songs associated with Mississippi GRAMMY-winning artists, songwriters, and producers. This year’s group of students includes eight performing band members and three non-members who assist with road management, social media, and tech support.

Southern Halo, whose members hail from Cleveland, Miss., are a dynamic modern country- rock band composed of teen sisters Natalia Morris on guitar and lead vocals, Christina on drums and vocals, and Hannah on bass guitar and vocals. Their amazing sibling harmonies and expert musicianship best define their sound. Southern Halo has performed across America, from Atlanta, Georgia to San Diego, Calif., and at concert venues across the Mississippi Delta to the hallowed stage of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. Their debut single, “Little White Dress,” from their 2015 self-titled album, has recently cracked the national MusicRow radio chart and entered 2016 by holding down the #1 spot on the European Hotdisc chart for 8 consecutive weeks.

Don't miss MAMMA MIA! Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

MAMMA MIA! at BPAC one night only on Feb. 18

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Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ MAMMA MIA!, the smash-hit musical based on the songs of ABBA, plays the Bologna Performing Arts Center on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. on the campus of Delta State University. The performance is locally sponsored by Guaranty Bank.

MAMMA MIA! is one of the most successful musicals of all time, the eighth longest running show in Broadway history and one of only five current musicals to have run for more than ten years on Broadway. The West End production is now in its 17th year. The international tour has visited more than 81 foreign cities in 37 countries.

Inspired by the storytelling magic of ABBA’s songs from “Dancing Queen” and “S.O.S.” to “Money, Money, Money” and “Take a Chance on Me,” MAMMA MIA! is a celebration of mothers and daughters, old friends and new family.

MAMMA MIA! will perform one night only, Thursday, Feb. 18 at the Bologna Performing Arts Center. Tickets for MAMMA MIA! are $35-$65 and are available through the Bologna Performing Arts Center Ticket office, 662-846-4626 and online at

MAMMA MIA! is produced by Work Light Productions, whose other touring productions include Rent 20th Anniversary Tour, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Vocalosity, and Crazy For You.

The original production of MAMMA MIA! was produced by Judy Craymer, Richard East and Björn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal, the creative team responsible for bringing MAMMA MIA! to theatrical life includes some of the most gifted and celebrated talents of musical theatre and opera. With music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, MAMMA MIA! is written by Catherine Johnson and directed by Phyllida Lloyd. MAMMA MIA! has choreography by Anthony Van Laast, production design by Mark Thompson, lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Andrew Bruce and Bobby Aitken, and musical supervision, additional material and arrangements by Martin Koch.

Dr. Shannon Jeffreys, director of Choral Activities and assistant professor at Georgia Southern University

Honor Choir concert set for Feb. 14

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Join the Delta State University choirs on Sunday, Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. in the Bologna Performing Arts Center for this year’s Honor Choir concert.

DSU will host approximately 140 high school students from more than 15 schools in Mississippi and Tennessee. These students were selected through competitive on-site auditions in October and will visit the Delta State campus for the weekend to celebrate their achievements in choral music.

The concert will also feature the Delta State Chorale performing several selections including the Kentucky Appalachian tune “Bright Morning Star,” Beethoven’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” and Dan Forrest’s “Lead, Kindly Light,” as well the Delta State University Chamber Singers performing Stan Wagnon’s “The Least of These” with faculty member Dr. Laurissa Backlin as a soloist.

The guest conductor for the Honor Choir is Dr. Shannon Jeffreys, who is the director of Choral Activities and assistant professor at Georgia Southern University, where she conducts Southern Chorale, Fermata the Blue, and Southern Gentlemen and teaches undergraduate and graduate conducting and literature courses.

She has led Southern Chorale in two international choral competitions where the choir won significant awards earning the highest overall score in Sing ‘N’ Joy, Louisville in 2013. Dr. Jeffreys’ choirs have also been invited to perform in state conferences of the American Choral Directors Association and the national conference of the National Association for Music Education. Last spring, she was awarded the “CLASS Award of Distinction in Teaching” from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

Dr. Jeffreys holds degrees in music performance and conducting from Birmingham Southern College, the University of Mississippi, and the University of South Carolina. Dr. Jeffreys is an active adjudicator and clinician and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, American Choral Directors Association, and National Association for Music Education.

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AmeriCorps*VISTA seeking fulltime members

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In its fight against poverty, the AmeriCorps*VISTA program, under the direction of Linda Stringfellow, is now accepting applications for full-time members.

Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) members focus on building sustainable programs by strengthening an organization’s infrastructure, expanding community partnerships and securing long-term resources.

In exchange for a 12-month commitment to service, VISTA members will receive a modest living stipend, an end-of-term education award or cash stipend, free health insurance, student loan forbearance or deferment, skills development and much more.

In combatting illiteracy, health concerns and economic despair, some VISTA efforts may include implementing marketing campaigns, coordinating educational workshops, recruiting other volunteers, or organizing fundraising efforts.

Openings in Sunflower, Washington, Coahoma, Tunica, Panola, Leflore, Holmes and Yazoo counties are waiting to be filled.

If you’re at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen, apply to the Mississippi Delta Service Corps/AmeriCorps*VISTA Program at, and select “I’m Ready to Serve.” You may also visit the Center for Community & Economic Development at Delta State, located on 1417 College St. in Cleveland.

For more information, contact Lakisha L. Butler, program associate for marketing and recruiting, at 662-846-4848 or e-mail