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DMI Archives - News and Events

DMI fundraiser features award-winning singer-songwriters

By | College of Arts and Sciences, Community, Delta Music Institute, Faculty/Staff | No Comments

Award-winning singer-songwriters Ashley Cleveland, Pam Tillis, Karen Staley and Tricia Walker will be joining forces in Cleveland for a unique evening of songs and stories to benefit the Delta Music Institute entertainment industry program at Delta State University.

The Original Women in the Round will be performing two shows “Bluebird Café style” on Nov. 28 at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at the Delta Meat Market in downtown Cleveland.

This talented foursome was the first female “in the round” group at the Bluebird Café, one of the world’s preeminent listening rooms, located in Nashville, Tennessee. Their first show together was in 1988, and they have continued to perform together for selected dates over the years. This “in the round” performance will consist of the songwriters seated in the center of the room, taking turns playing their songs and accompanying each other instrumentally and with harmony vocals.

Ashley Cleveland is a three-time GRAMMY® and two-time Dove Award winner who has released eight critically acclaimed albums. “God Don’t Never Change” features songs rooted firmly in a host of traditions — black spirituals, folks songs, 18th century hymns, gospel blues, and jubilee. The disc was nominated for a 2010 GRAMMY® Award for Best Traditional Gospel Album. Cleveland resides in Nashville with her husband, Kenny Greenberg, and their three children, Rebecca, Henry and Lily.

As the child of Country Music Royalty, Pam Tillis was determined from a young age to find her own way in music as a singer and songwriter. Her album “Put Yourself In My Place” yielded two No. 1 and two Top 5 singles in its first year when the album was certified gold. Tillis followed with three platinum albums on Arista Records. Tillis achieved six No. 1 songs during this time, including “Shake the Sugar Tree,” “Mi Vida Loca,” “When You Walk In The Room,” “In Between Dances,” “Don’t Tell Me What To Do,” and “Maybe It Was Memphis.” Tillis is a two-time GRAMMY award winner, six-time GRAMMY nominee, and a three-time CMA award winner, including Female Vocalist Of The Year in 1994. She is also a proud member of The Grand Ole Opry.

Karen Staley was born in Weirton, West Virginia and was raised in nearby rural Hookstown, Pennsylvania in the Tri-State area of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. She is a 30-year veteran of the Nashville music industry and has been involved in every facet of the business, from songwriting and performing to touring, recording and producing. Staley’s songs have been nominated for GRAMMY, Dove and International Bluegrass Awards, and her song “Keeper Of The Stars” won the ACM Song of The Year award and was featured on CMT’s “100 Greatest Country Love Songs of All Time” TV special.

Tricia Walker is a singer and songwriter whose songs are steeped in the passion, pain and grace of the American South. Born and raised in Mississippi, Walker has become one of the clearest voices of her own time and place. Her music has been recorded by Faith Hill, Patty Loveless and Alison Krauss, whose performance of Tricia’s “Looking in the Eyes of Love” earned a GRAMMY award. A recording artist herself, Walker’s CD, “The Heart of Dixie,” thoughtfully captures the songwriter’s view of the South with well-placed lyrics and music reflecting her folk, R&B and storytelling influences.

Eighty-five tickets will be available for purchase for each of the two shows. Tickets are $100 (including DMM buffet-style dinner)  and may be purchased by calling the DMI office at 662-846-4579 between the hours of 8 a.m. to noon Monday-Thursday.

The DMI is an independent center of study under the College of Arts and 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, visit http://dmi.deltastate.edu.

Fighting Okra Records seeks next artist

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Delta Music Institute, Students | No Comments

Fighting Okra Records, the student-run record label within the Delta Music Institute’s entertainment industry program at Delta State University, has launched its search for the next FOR recording artist.

Performing artists interested in pursuing this unique opportunity can visit fightingokrarecords.com, fill out the application form in its entirety, and submit online for a chance to be selected. The submission period will remain opent until  Nov. 10 at 11:59 p.m.

FOR is accepting submissions from both solo artists and bands of any musical genre. This year, the search has expanded beyond Delta State’s campus to include solo acts or groups in the surrounding area. All applicants must be 18 years of age or older and provide basic information regarding their musical endeavors.

FOR’s main purpose is to select a talented musician or band and provide them with professional industry utilities paired with significant industry insight to expand and strengthen the career of whomever the label selects.

“The artist or band selected for the Fighting Okra Records label will have a unique opportunity to have multiple university resources available to them for their career development through the students in the practicum course,” said Tricia Walker, DMI director. “The FOR members will facilitate photography, professional audio, publicity and promotion services on behalf of the artist in order to provide the artist with tools for building a strong foundation going forward.”

The Delta Music Institute is an independent center of study under the College of Arts and 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 about the DMI or Fighting Okra Records, contact 662-846-4579, or visit http://dmi.deltastate.edu.

Fighting Okra Records to host album release party

By | College of Arts and Sciences, Community, Delta Music Institute, Students, Uncategorized | No Comments

Fighting Okra Records, the student-run record label within the Delta Music Institute’s entertainment industry program at Delta State University, is hosting an album release party to celebrate the newest addition to its ongoing compilation series, “Fighting Okra, Round 3.”

The event will feature live performances from artists featured on the album and take place on the campus Quadrangle on Oct. 12 at 5 p.m.

Six student artists will perform at the event, each providing a different style of music, including hip-hop, electronic, alternative and soul. All artists are featured on the CD and will be performing their contributions to the album, as well as some of their solo material. Free refreshments will be provided, and entry to the event is free.

In addition to the musical performances, the release party will include raffles, contests and a photo booth for attendees.

“Fighting Okra, Round 3″ is the third entry in FOR’s compilation series, and fifth release for the student-run record label.

“I’m excited about a new release on the Fighting Okra Records label,” said Tricia Walker, DMI director. “This release marks the beginning of the search for the label’s next artist to be signed and produced in the DMI studios. There is so much great young talent here at Delta State, and this current release showcases a lot of that talent.”

The Delta Music Institute 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 about the DMI or Fighting Okra Records, contact 662-846-4579 or visit http://dmi.deltastate.edu.

Fighting Okra Records releases new compilation CD

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Delta Music Institute, Students | No Comments

Fighting Okra Records, a student-run record label housed in the Delta Music Institute entertainment industry program at Delta State University, recently released its third compilation CD project, “Fighting Okra: Round 3,” featuring 17 tracks of original music either written, produced or recorded by DMI students.

The new Fighting Okra project was the culmination of a senior project by DMI graduate Jarrick Finkley during the fall of 2015. In a continuing effort to expose the music of DMI students to the campus and community, Finkley decided to assemble a third compilation CD to expose the depth of talent of DMI students.

“Fighting Okra: Round 3” contains 17 original works representing a wide range of genres including hip-hop, gospel, alternative, R&B, dub step, rock, metal, and country. The songs on the project were written, produced, engineered or performed by current DMI students and alumni, with Finkley serving as executive producer. Songs on the CD were selected by Finkley after multiple screenings and were chosen on the basis of lyrical content and recording quality.

“I loved working on Fighting Okra Round 3,” said Finkley, a native of Vicksburg. “It was a big challenge, but the project allowed me to learn so much within a cooperative work situation. I am grateful to every student artist and engineer who contributed their awesome gifts and talents to this project.”

DMI Director Tricia Walker served as the faculty advisor for the project.

“The lessons students like Jarrick learn in working on a real-world project like this are invaluable,” said Walker. “I’m very proud of what he’s put together on this CD. It really does represent the breadth and depth of the talent coming out of DMI.”

Copies of the CD will be available for purchase in the main office of the DMI on campus and online at www.fightingokrarecords.com. For more information on the album or the FOR label, contact the DMI at 662-846-4579 or visit www.fightingokrarecords.com.

The DMI is an independent center of study under the College of Arts and Sciences at Delta State, 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, contact 662-846-4579 or visit http://dmi.deltastate.edu.

Healing with a Groove 2.0 creates alumni network

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Community, Delta Music Institute, Students | No Comments
Photo (left to right):  Laeitta Wade, HWG 2.0 project assistant; Keziah Allen (Indianola); Isaac Peppers (Greenville); A’Midius Sigle (Shelby); Cle’Various Thornton (Moorhead); and Travis Calvin, HWG 2.0 project coordinator. HWG alumni not pictured: Jakevian McCaster (Greenwood); and Parker Abney II (Clarksdale).

The Delta Music Institute, an independent center of entertainment industry studies at Delta State University, recently received a $548,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) of Battle Creek, Michigan, to extend its successful Healing with a Groove 2.0 program.

The program is a narrative change initiative with the mission of promoting racial healing through the creation and production of original songs and recordings among young persons of color. The current round of funding will promote the establishment and development of a HWG 2.0 alumni base and the creation of a multimedia toolkit to be used as a resource for schools and organizations interested in establishing HWG groups.

“Music has great power to heal,” said DMI Director Tricia Walker. “Using digital media tools available today will empower the young participants in this program to find their unique voice in creating new songs and recordings that can address issues of race and how music can promote healing.”

Travis Calvin, a Delta State alumnus, serves as the coordinator of the DMI Mobile Lab and leads the HWG program.

“I am excited to build on the success we’ve had with this project. I’m looking forward to developing and empowering HWG alumni to become young leaders in their communities, using music and digital media as a platform to address issues of concern in their schools and hometowns,” said Calvin.

A network of HWG alumni from Bolivar, Coahoma, Leflore, Sunflower and Washington counties will be selected and trained to assist local participants in the project. Participants generate ideas by engaging in open dialogue sessions before crafting original songs and producing audio recordings using the professional studios and equipment of the DMI and the DMI Mobile Music Lab.

The HWG 2.0 program provides instruction in commercial songwriting, audio engineering and digital media for participants in the counties served, giving them opportunities to explore and promote racial healing through the creation and dissemination of original songs. The project will foster the creation and recording of 30-40 original songs and musical works exploring and promoting racial healing. The development of the multimedia toolkit will serve as a guide for student leaders, teachers and administrators interested in facilitating the HWG 2.0 program in their local communities.

“Mississippi is the birthplace of America’s music and also the repository of a complicated history regarding race,” said Walker. “This unique project will provide young people in the Delta with an opportunity to explore this ongoing issue by using the popular medium of contemporary music and audio production.”

The DMI offers a bachelor’s in entertainment industry studies from the College of Arts and Sciences at Delta State. 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 662-846-4579 or visit http://dmi.deltastate.edu.

The WKKF is a private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, and is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

WKKF works throughout the U.S. and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. The organization’s priority areas in the U.S. include Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.