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DMI Archives - News and Events

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.

Hit songwriters to make Delta return for DMI benefit

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

The Delta Music Institute Entertainment Industry Studies program at Delta State University will host its second “Writers in the Round” show on May 18 at the Delta Meat Market in downtown Cleveland.

The show will be held at 6 p.m. and will feature three-time GRAMMY® winner Ashley Cleveland, Dove award winner and writer of “Mary, Did You Know?,” Buddy Greene, A-Team Nashville session player Jeff Taylor, and DMI Director Tricia Walker.

The event serves as a fundraiser for DMI scholarships and programming.

“An ‘in the round’ songwriter show features professional songwriters in an intimate circular setting made famous at the Bluebird Café in Nashville, Tennessee,” said Walker, who was one of the mainstays of the venue during her years as a singer-songwriter in Music City. “It’s a wonderful way to experience the power and emotion of great songs sung by the writers themselves.”

Ashley Cleveland is a GRAMMY and 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, folk songs, 18th century hymns, gospel blues and jubilee. The disc was nominated for a GRAMMY Award for Best Traditional Gospel Album.

Buddy Greene has worked with the most celebrated names in the music industry, among them Bill and Gloria Gaither, the late Jerry Reed, and Mark Lowry, with whom he wrote the Christmas classic “Mary, Did You Know?”  The song has been recorded numerous times, including covers by Kenny Rogers, Wynonna, Natalie Cole, Glen Campbell, Kathy Mattea, CeeLo Green, Clay Aiken and Pentatonix. Greene has performed for more than a quarter of a million people in New York’s Central Park and has been a part of Praise Gatherings for more than two decades and toured all over the world.

Jeff Taylor grew up in Batavia, New York, and studied classical piano at the Eastman School of Music. He has lived in Nashville since 1990 and counts among his performing highlights his two years as bandleader at the Ryman Auditorium for the musical production “Always, Patsy Cline,” the Skaggs Family Christmas Tour, and many appearances on the Grand Ole Opry backing numerous artists. He has recorded with Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, Harry Connick Jr., Amy Grant, George Strait, Vince Gill and The Chieftains. He was a featured artist on the 2007 GRAMMY-winning Best Bluegrass Album, Ricky Skaggs “Instrumentals”. In addition to excelling on accordion and piano, he also shines on the concertina, penny whistle, mandolin and bouzouki.

Seating is limited to 85 seats. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Delta Music Institute office at 662-846-4579 between 8 a.m. and noon Monday-Thursday.

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 http://dmi.deltastate.edu.

Delta Music Institute presents Senior Showcase

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The Delta Music Institute entertainment industry studies program at Delta State University will host its first Senior Showcase on April 24 at 7 p.m. downtown on the Green Space in Cleveland to showcase the range of talent coming out of the DMI.

The Senior Showcase will promote original music by DMI students in the DMI Senior Project class by featuring performances from a diverse group of entertainers.

Included in the line-up are: Jessica Faith, Scott’s House, Deering, Carrie Lynn, Mic Hargrove, From the Pier, Thomas Walker & the Garment of Praise Choir, and the DMI All-Stars, a select group of Delta State students who performed for Mississippi Night during GRAMMY® week in Los Angeles.

“This is the first semester that DMI has showcased all the students in the senior project class on one show, and I think the public will be really impressed with the depth and diversity of talent on the show,” said DMI Director Tricia Walker. “And in the collaborative nature of the DMI, students in the Live Event practicum course, under the direction of Charly Abraham, will be managing the event and handling all production for the show.”

Kacee Russell, lead singer and songwriter for the band Scott’s House, said, “I’m excited to show everybody a few of the songs Scott’s House has been working on, and it’s cool that the DMI seniors will get to show off their hard work to people who might not normally come out to a show. It’s going to be a good ole time.”

The showcase is free and open to the public, and concessions will be available for purchase from the Levee Break Grill and Delta Dairy. Attendees are advised to bring a lawn chair or blanket for seating.

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 http://dmi.deltastate.edu.

Delta State recognized in Architect Magazine

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

Delta State University and its signature Delta Music Institute program were recently mentioned in an Architect Magazine article about Grammy Museum® Mississippi.

The article credits the Delta Music Institute for having the most unique audio recording facilities in the South.

The article also praises the new 28,000-square-foot museum, housed on Delta State’s campus, for its distinct state-of-the-art architectural design, inside and out.

Read the full story at http://www.architectmagazine.com/project-gallery/grammy-museum-mississippi.

Learn more about opportunities with the Delta Music Institute at http://www.deltastate.edu/artsandsciences/delta-music-institute.