William Bell acknowledges the audience for their standing ovation following his performance at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi on Oct. 12.

International Delta Blues Project, GRAMMY partner for free public film and music event

By | Academics, Community, Delta Center, GRAMMY, International Delta Blues Project | No Comments

The Delta Center’s International Delta Blues Project at Delta State University recently partnered with GRAMMY Museum Mississippi to present a free, public event of educational film and live music on Oct. 12.

The “Take Me to the River” community film screening is one of several Blues Leadership Incubator events that have been offered by the International Delta Blues Project. The incubator events focus on economic opportunity related to blues education and tourism in the Mississippi Delta. The events are free and open to the public through a generous grant from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation.

Martin Shore introduces his film "Take Me to the River."

Martin Shore introduces his film “Take Me to the River.”

Nearly 150 guests from throughout the Delta gathered at the museum to see a 45-minute version of the critically-acclaimed documentary “Take Me to the River,” produced by Martin Shore and created at historic Royal Studios in Memphis. The film brings multiple generations of award-winning Memphis and Mississippi Delta musicians together, following them through the creative process of recording a historic new album. “Take Me To The River” features Terrence Howard, William Bell, Snoop Dog, Mavis Staples, Otis Clay, Lil P-Nut, Charlie Musselwhite, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Yo Gotti, Bobby Rush, Frayser Boy, The North Mississippi Allstars and many more.

After viewing the film, the crowd enjoyed live performances from The Hi Rhythm section (featuring Charles and Leroy Hodges), Stax Music Academy Alumni Band, William Bell, Frayser Boy, Al Kapone, and GRAMMY winner Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, owner of Royal Studios. Mitchell recently served as keynote speaker for Delta State’s International Conference on the Blues during a Blues Brunch held at the museum.

According to Frayser Boy, an Academy Award winner for Best Original Song, these performances are as much about education as they are entertainment.

“I come from a hip-hop background. I never really used live music in performances before I was invited to be a part of this project,” he said. “But these guys have taught me more in a couple of years than the 15 or so previous years I was working in this business. All these old guys — these guys that have spent their lives making music — they taught me to better understand where music comes from, and how important it is to our communities. Just as importantly, they are teaching me how to make a career out of this, not just a single record. To do that, I need to know where my music comes from and why it was made the way it was made.”

To underscore the educational emphasis of the event, the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area was invited to open the program with oral history documentaries created by students from Delta Hands for Hope of Shaw, Mississippi, and the Rosedale Freedom Project of Rosedale, Mississippi. The students attended after-school workshops learning film and oral history skills through a grant from the MDNHA. The students interviewed and photographed Mississippi Delta residents to learn how music has influenced their lives.

Attendees linger in the lobby of the museum and visit with the musicians following the performance.

Attendees linger in the lobby of the museum and visit with the musicians following the performance.

“The ‘Take Me To The River’ program was one of the best nights of music we’ve had at the museum,” said Jane Marie Dawkins, education and public programs manager for the museum. “The artists, film and student projects all provided a very entertaining and educational experience. It meant a lot to us to showcase this music from our region, and it was an unforgettable night at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi.”

For more information about the International Delta Blues Project, visit http://www.internationaldeltabluesproject.com/.

The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project and the National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place On Earth” workshops. For more information, visit http://deltacenterdsu.com/.

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College fair in Ridgeland to highlight Delta State

By | Admissions, Community, Faculty/Staff, Students | No Comments

Delta State University is hosting an interactive event for prospective students at the Renaissance Mall at Colony Park in Ridgeland on Oct. 25 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

All central Mississippi students, parents, counselors, alumni and friends are invited to the college fair that will be located in the pedestrian area behind Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Renaissance.

Academic representatives, staff and current students will be on hand to talk one-on-one about the university’s undergraduate and graduate degree programs, financial aid, scholarships, campus life and more.

The goal behind the on-site college fair is convenience and accessibility for those interested in Delta State. Admissions recruiter Rebekah Arant said the fair will be beneficial to those busy families who need quick answers.

“It can be difficult for busy families to get to Cleveland for a campus visit, so we are bringing campus to Jackson,” said Arant.

In addition to academic departments and admissions representatives, the Office of Financial Aid, Office of Student Life, and the Student Success Center will be on site.

With the casual location and come-and-go atmosphere, the university hopes to convey the true feeling of the Delta State family.

For more information, visit www.deltastate.edu/collegefair, call 662-846-4020, or email rarant@deltastate.edu.

The 2016 Sustaining Life Member Program lapel pin

Sustaining Life Member Program supports scholarship fund

By | Alumni | No Comments

The Delta State University National Alumni Association launched the Sustaining Life Member Program in 2013 as a voluntary way for current paid-in-full lifetime members and honorary lifetime members to provide additional annual support to the association with a yearly tax-deductible gift of $100.

Sustaining Life members are recognized for their generosity in an issue of Delta State magazine and listed on the Alumni Association’s website. Members also receive a certificate and special edition lapel pin.

The 2013 lapel pin featured the Delta State quadrangle with the oak trees towering above. The 2014 pin featured the Lena Roberts Sillers Chapel, and the 2015 pin featured Walter Sillers Coliseum. This year’s pin features the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni & Foundation House.

The program was started to enhance the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni Scholarship Fund. Over the past decade, over 200 students have received the scholarship. By the Centennial Celebration of 2025, the National Alumni Association has set a goal to award 500 Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni Scholarships. The scholarship is a one-time gift of $500.

“All funds raised will be used for the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni Scholarship, which is given to incoming freshmen and transfer students whose parents are dues-paying members of the National Alumni Association,” said Jeffrey Farris, director of Alumni Affairs.

There are currently over 2,700 Life Members of the National Alumni Association. Members who have yet to join the Sustaining Life Program can still donate and receive their special edition lapel pin.

To participate in the program, or for more information, contact the Alumni Association at 662-846-4660, or visit the website www.deltastategiving.org/alumniassociation/sustaininglifememberprogram.

Members of Delta State's Delta Center for Culture and Learning, along with members of the Community Center of Economic Development, recently participated in a community development panel discussion at the Coahoma County Higher Education Center in Clarksdale.

Delta Center, CCED participate in rural community development research panel

By | Center for Community and Economic Development, Delta Center | No Comments

A group of applied population researchers recently held their annual workshop and mini-conference in the Mississippi Delta. The meeting was part of a multi-state research project titled “The Great Recession, Its Aftermath, and Patterns of Rural and Small Town Demographic Change.”

To better understand issues of concern to rural community and health development professionals, participants engaged in an interactive panel discussion held at the Coahoma County Higher Education Center in Clarksdale.

Sixteen scholars from research institutions across the nation – including Cornell University, Penn State University, Auburn University, University of Missouri, University of Wisconsin, and the USDA Economic Research Service —joined seven of their Mississippi colleagues to present research on demographic and socioeconomic issues of concern following the Great Recession.

The group discussed strategies for better disseminating their work to the public. Additionally, they developed plans for the next five years of their work together, including their recently launched research brief series that is available online as “Population Trends in Post-Recession Rural America.” Interested readers should check the website periodically as new publications are released at http://w3001.apl.wisc.edu/.

The panel discussion was moderated and organized by Dr. John J. Green, director of the Center for Population Studies at University of Mississippi. Panelists included: Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State; Linda Stringfellow, director of the AmeriCorps VISTA Program in the Center for Community and Economic Development at Delta State; Aurelia Jones-Taylor, CEO of the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Center; and Desta Reff, Delta Clinical Fellow, a partnership between Mississippi State University and Harvard Law School.

The group of applied population researchers is associated with the Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Directors. The 2016 meeting was co-hosted and co-sponsored by the University of Mississippi’s Center for Population Studies, Department of Sociology and Anthropology and McLean Institute.

The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project and the National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place On Earth” workshops. For more information, visit http://deltacenterdsu.com/.

Mavis Staples and The Blind Boys of Alabama visit the Bologna Performing Arts Center Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Mavis Staples and Blind Boys of Alabama coming to BPAC

By | Bologna Performing Arts Center | No Comments

Two powerful acts will deliver a potent performance of fervent vocals and uplifting lyrics Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Delta State’s Bologna Performing Arts Center. The BPAC proudly presents Mavis Staples and the Blind Boys of Alabama in an incredible night of music. The concert is sponsored by Cannon Motors of Mississippi.

Mavis Staples is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Kennedy Center Honoree and a National Heritage Fellowship Award recipient. Since her first recording at age 13 in 1954, Staples has learned from, worked with, and schooled countless legends, and has brought her own timeless talent to every performance.

Staples stardom began with the Delta-inflected gospel sound she helped create in the 1950s with her father, Pops, and her brother and sisters as The Staple Singers. She then became known for her freedom songs of the Civil Rights era, and then topped the radio charts during the Stax era with hits like “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself.” She served as muse to both Bob Dylan and Prince at the peak of their careers, and later formed 21st century collaborations with Van Morrison, Billy Preston, Zac Brown, Ry Cooder, Chuck D. and Willie Nelson. She then formed a GRAMMY-winning partnership with fellow Chicagoan Jeff Tweedy. Throughout it all, the one constant has been Mavis and her singular voice. Staples has embraced her evolution, absorbing new sounds and ideas, rising to meet the challenges of longevity and bringing her message of hope and positivity to new listeners, song after song, show after show.

Winner of five GRAMMYs, the Blind Boys of Alabama have the rare distinction of being recognized around the world as both living legends and modern-day innovators. They are not just gospel singers borrowing from old traditions; the group helped to define those traditions in the 20th century and almost single-handedly created a new gospel sound for the 21st.

Since the original members first sang together as kids at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in the late 1930s (including Jimmy Carter, who leads the group today), the band has persevered through seven decades to become one of the most recognized and decorated roots music groups in the world. The Blind Boys’ live shows are roof-raising musical events that appeal to audiences of all cultures, as evidenced by an international itinerary that has taken them to virtually every continent. The Blind Boys of Alabama have attained the highest levels of achievement in a career that spans over 75 years and shows no signs of diminishing.

Tickets start at $30 and are available at the Bologna Performing Arts Center Ticket Office, open Monday-Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., by phone at 662-846-4626, or online www.bolognapac.com.