GRAMMY winner Dom Flemons will perform at the Delta Music Institute Oct. 6 at 6:30 p.m.

GRAMMY winner Dom Flemons to perform on campus

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GRAMMY winner and blues-folks star Dom Flemons will perform at the Delta Music Institute Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m. as a featured artist in the second annual International Conference on the Blues at Delta State.

The concert is free, open to the public and will be hosted in DMI Studio A.

Flemons is the “American Songster,” pulling from traditions of old-time folk music to create new sounds. Having performed music professionally since 2005, he has played live for over one million people within the past three years.

As part of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, which he co-founded with Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson, he has played at a variety of festivals, spanning from the Newport Folk Festival to Bonnaroo, in addition to renowned venues such as the Grand Ole Opry.

A multi-instrumentalist, Flemons plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, fife, bones, bass drum, snare drum and quills, in addition to singing. He also incorporates his background in percussion into his banjo playing. Felmon’s banjo repertoire includes not only clawhammer but also tenor and three-finger styles of playing. He first picked up the instrument when he borrowed a five-string banjo from a friend who had removed the instrument’s fifth string.

Flemons and the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an African American string band, won a GRAMMY for its 2011 album “Genuine Negro Jig.”  The group’s second album, “Leaving Eden,” was also nominated in 2012.

In July of 2014, Flemons released his third solo record with Music Maker Relief Foundation, and his first since leaving the Carolina Chocolate Drops. “Prospect Hill” finds Flemons digging deeply into ragtime, Piedmont blues, spirituals, southern folk music, string band music, jug band music, fife and drum music, and ballads idioms with showmanship and humor, reinterpreting the music to suit 21st century audiences.

See the complete schedule for the International Conference on the Blues at http://www.deltastate.edu/president/international-blues-conference/schedule-of-events/.

Cora Jackson, instructor and director of Field Education in the Department of Social Work at Delta State, was recently awarded the Mississippi Conference on Social Welfare Individual Merit Award.

Jackson wins merit award

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Cora Jackson, instructor and director of Field Education in the Department of Social Work at Delta State, was awarded the Mississippi Conference on Social Welfare Individual Merit Award at its 88th annual meeting in Biloxi, Miss. on Sept. 24-25.

The award recognizes those who have made a significant impact on social welfare or social services in Mississippi. Other criteria included the nominee’s uniqueness of services or contributions, advocacy efforts and creative measures used to effect social change.

“I am very humbled for being selected for this prestigious award,” said Jackson. “It is always a great feeling to be honored for the work you do, but I must say the work I do and the service to my community is because of the passion I have for the people and my profession — not for the sake of gaining awards, because they are temporal. What matters is the commitment to change lives, and that is what I try to exemplify in my everyday work.”

Jackson, who has taught for five years at Delta State, has been employed in the field of social work for the past 19 years. Her career has provided her the opportunity to serve families and children in a variety of settings, including mental health, hospital social work, home health social services, Head Start case management, administrative and supervisory roles in child protective services, contractual work with hospice, and other schools of social work in teaching and field instruction training.

Jackson added that she is honored to share this award with the students and colleagues she works with on a daily basis.

“I am honored to give back to the institution and community where I received my undergraduate training,” she said. “Because of the instruction and guidance I received, I am able to give the same dedication to our students in hopes that they will do great things for their communities.”

The MCSW has been advancing social services in Mississippi for over 75 years. It’s main goal is to serve as an educational organization for social welfare across the state.

The MCSW is approved as a provider for continuing education by the Mississippi Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage & Family Therapists. Membership is composed of practitioners, administrators, consultants, educators, researchers, volunteers, lay citizens and students.

Learn more about the Department of Social Work at Delta State at http://www.deltastate.edu/college-of-arts-and-sciences/social-work.

GRAMMY Award nominee Bobby Rush (left) and James “Super Chikan” Johnson will be featured in a free concert at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.

Bobby Rush and Super Chikan launch “Storytellers” tour at Delta State

By | Bologna Performing Arts Center, Community, Delta Center, Faculty/Staff | No Comments

Blues legends Bobby Rush and James “Super Chikan” Johnson have teamed up to perform a free concert at Delta State University’s Bologna Performing Arts Center on Oct.6. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m, and the concert will begin at 7 p.m.

The event, “The Storytellers featuring Bobby Rush and Super Chikan: Up Close and Personal,” will be the closing activity for Delta State’s second annual International Conference on the Blues, which is part of the institution’s International Delta Blues Project.

The concert is free and open to the public through sponsorship from the IDBP and the BPAC.

“We are always pleased to present free programming for our community,” said Laura Howell, executive director of the BPAC. “This partnership with the International Delta Blues Project provides a great opportunity for access to these incredible blues musicians and the stories they have to tell.”

“Storytellers” is a stripped-down concert format that invites music lovers of all ages and backgrounds to experience two renowned blues artists singing and telling stories about their lives, careers, the blues and the Mississippi Delta in distinctly personal ways.

“This concert is about telling where I come from and where my people come from — the Mississippi Delta,” said Rush. “It is about sharing my life and the lives of people who came before me. It’s about impacting the lives of those who are coming after me.

“I am 81-years-old. Now that B.B. King has passed, I am the oldest blues singer in the world. I want to tell the story of where the blues came from, what it is about and where it should go. These are stories that need to be told. I want to educate people about this, and Delta State’s International Conference on the Blues is the place to start.”

Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning, is thrilled to bring the talented musicians to campus.

“We are excited that Bobby Rush and Super Chikan chose Delta State, the home of the International Delta Blues Project, as the place to launch their tour,” said Herts. “This concert is part of a broader effort to promote Delta State, Cleveland, and the Mississippi Delta as leading destinations for Blues music and culture. We also are pleased that generous support from the Hearin Foundation and our partnership with the BPAC allow us to make this live concert event free for Delta residents and visitors.”

The “Storytellers” concert is featured on the live music performance schedule for the Bridging the Blues Festival, an annual series of September and October events across Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee celebrating the rich music and culture of the region.

A GRAMMY Award nominee, Bobby Rush is the winner of multiple Blues Music Awards including Soul Blues Album of the Year, Acoustic Album of the Year and Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year. Rolling Stone magazine named him “The King of the Chitlin’ Circuit,” a distinguished African American cultural heritage designation that pays homage to the Southern network of clubs, theaters, halls and juke joints that catered to black audiences during the racially segregated Jim Crow Era. Rush has recorded over 100 albums in his more than 60-year career. He continues to perform over 200 shows a year from Mississippi to Japan and headlines major festivals and concerts for upwards of 20,000 people a night.

James “Super Chikan” Johnson is the recipient of the Mississippi’s Governors Award for Excellence in the Arts and the recipient of the prestigious Artist Fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Commission. He is a native of Darling, Miss., a rural Mississippi Delta community located in Quitman County. As a boy growing up in the country, he was fascinated by his family’s chickens, thus earning him the nickname “Chicken.” His critically acclaimed debut album, “Blues Come Home to Roost,” featured songs about humorous and serious aspects of life in the Mississippi Delta. The album earned him awards for Best Blues Album and Best Debut Album from the 1998 Living Blues Magazine Awards.

For more information about the “Storytellers” concert, visit http://bolognapac.com/events/the-storytellers-featuring-bobby-rush-and-super-chikan-up-close-and-personal/.

For over 21 years, the Bologna Performing Arts Center at Delta State University has been bringing together artists and audiences to celebrate the arts and enrich the cultural life of the Delta community. For more information on upcoming performances, visit www.bolognapac.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 is the home of the International Delta Blues Project and serves as the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.

Delta State fashion merchandising students shown clockwise from front left: Kirsten Stroven, Ashton Roach, Danza Locke, Anastasia Klyarovskaya, Josholynn Hunter and Shanice Cox.

Dyeing event attracts students from across state

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Delta State University’s fashion merchandising program recently hosted Delta Cotton, a one-day event provided to over 80 students enrolled in fashion merchandising/marketing programs at Deta State, Mississippi State University and The University of Southern Mississippi.

The day began with an Eco-Dyeing/Up-Cycling workshop taught by Pat Brown, Delta State professor emeritus of fiber, and was facilitated by Dr. Jan Haynes, fashion merchandising professor in the Division of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Activities included dyeing and surface design techniques, promoting the utilization of natural dyes from plants and other natural materials, and sustainable practices.

The group also learned about up-cycling by utilizing household linens containing at least 80 percent cotton, such as sheets, tablecloths and napkins as the base materials for dyeing and printing. Interested students will complete apparel designs by incorporating their textiles into garments, which will be presented at a competition at Mississippi State in November.

The day culminated in a cotton-focused bus tour to the Monsanto Learning Center followed by a tour of the nearby MSU Delta Research and Extension Center Cotton Ginning Research Unit in Stoneville, Miss. Students explored the cotton fields and picked the crop.

The event was made possible by a grant, Mississippi Cotton: Weaving Futures (2015), a joint partnership between the three Mississippi universities which offer fashion merchandising/marketing programs. Funding was provided by the Importer Support Program of the Cotton Board and Cotton Incorporated.

Learn more about fashion merchandising at Delta State at http://www.deltastate.edu/college-of-education/family-and-consumer-sciences/fashion-merchandising-family-and-consumer-sciences/.

President William N. LaForge (right) recently met with Dr. Rodolfo Alarcón Ortiz, Minister of Higher Education in Cuba, as part of an American delegation discussing future partnerships and exchanges with Cuban institutions of higher education.

LaForge among first to meet with higher education leaders in Cuba

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Delta State University President William N. LaForge recently traveled to Cuba to participate in groundbreaking relationship-building with higher education leaders in Cuba. For the first time since America’s diplomatic reset with Cuba last December, a delegation of university presidents, including LaForge, visited the island nation.

“On the heels of President Barack Obama’s recent efforts to reopen negotiations and diplomatic relations with Cuba, Delta State was one of 17 American universities, and the only Mississippi university, to participate in this effort to strengthen relations with Cuba,” said LaForge.

The trip was made possible by the annual Presidential Mission led by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Each year, the AASCU organizes a Presidential Mission to a country or region where member presidents and chancellors have opportunities to explore potential linkages with institutions of higher education.

“The second part of this story is that we concluded our meetings with the signing of an agreement between AASCU and the higher education community of Cuba, laying out a format going forward related to program collaboration and student exchanges,” added LaForge. “This is a huge step. Higher education is one of the first industries in the nation to get its nose under the tent, even before full diplomatic relations are restored.”

With the agreement, Delta State, along with the other institutions represented during the weeklong session, will have the opportunity to form international exchanges for students and faculty, both in Cuba and in the U.S. The door has now been opened programmatically.

President LaForge said multiple schools in Cuba showed interest in Delta State’s academic opportunities, particularly in the areas of entertainment industry studies, geospatial information technologies, nursing and aviation.

“This gives us an opportunity to broaden relationships across the academy overall, and more specifically, for our students and faculty to go there, and for them to come here,” said LaForge. “In many respects, Cuba is kind of the last frontier. It’s exciting that when the cloud is finally lifted, we will be among those first in line.”

The American delegation met with a network of 34 Cuban rectors (university presidents) — including the likes of the University of Havana, Medical University of Havana, Polytechnic University and the University of Information Sciences — to discuss potential partnerships.

Discussions also included Cuba’s minister of higher education, director of international relations, and deputy minister of health and welfare.

Additionally, participants toured the local area and met with artists and musicians. LaForge said Cuba is very musically oriented, and they showed great interest in Delta State’s departments of music and art, Delta Music Institute, Bologna Performing Arts Center, and the university’s connections to GRAMMY Museum Mississippi.

Attending the program was another step in international relationship building for Delta State, something LaForge has promised will be at the forefront of his agenda.

“Delta State has a role to play in international relations — and this is a great example of that,” said LaForge. “We’re encouraging our students to learn about a global economy. Here we have an opportunity to deal with cutting-edge international changes.”

LaForge added that once the embargo is officially lifted, Cuba would continue to undergo major developments.

LaForge's

LaForge’s 1957 Simca taxi ride.

“Old Cuba will morph quickly once the economic embargo has been lifted,” he said. “Stories abound regarding the plight of Cubans from top professionals to those barely able to cobble together a living under the socialistic regime. On a trip across the city one evening, my cab driver revealed that he quit his job as a cardiologist two years ago because he couldn’t earn enough to support his family. He was making roughly $57 a month as a heart surgeon. My round-trip fare in his 1957 French-made, restored, spit-shined Simca was about $46 — the same as the monthly wage of a typical university professor in Cuba.”

Arlene Jackson, associate vice president for Global Initiatives with AASCU, was pleased with the progress made by the American and Cuban leaders.

“In many ways this was a challenging mission,” said Jackson. “However, being the first university presidential delegation to go to Cuba — after the resumption of diplomatic relations — will allow us to begin to implement mutually beneficial academic opportunities. More specifically, we will be positioned to increase student mobility, expand professional development for faculty and promote joint research for both U.S. and Cuban students and faculty.”

AASCU represents more than 400 public state colleges and universities in the U.S. and works as a transformative influence in American public higher education through advocacy, leadership and service.

Learn more about the AASCU at http://www.aascu.org.