BB King

Delta Center organizes museum tours for architecture students

Delta Center staff members Dr. Rolando Herts and Lee Aylward at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi with Ross Barkley of Eley Barkley P.A. Engineering and Architecture (center), Jimmie Tucker of Self and Tucker Architects (far right), and the University of Memphis National Organization of Minority Architects Student Competition Team.

Delta Center staff members Dr. Rolando Herts and Lee Aylward at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi with Ross Barkley of Eley Barkley P.A. Engineering and Architecture (center), Jimmie Tucker of Self and Tucker Architects (far right), and the University of Memphis National Organization of Minority Architects Student Competition Team.

During the spring 2016 semester, The Delta Center For Culture and Learning has hosted several student groups visiting the region from a variety of higher education institutions, including Mississippi State University, Harvard Law School, Yale University and Emory University.

Most recently, The Delta Center arranged two museum architectural tours for members of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) from the University of Memphis. The students visited GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi on Delta State’s campus and the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola.

The NOMAS design competition team is developing a cultural heritage museum concept for Los Angeles’ historic Crenshaw district. The group of students was sponsored by Jimmie Tucker of Self and Tucker Architects, a Memphis-based firm that has designed the National Civil Rights Museum, STAX Museum and FedExForum.

Ross Barkley discusses Mississippi Delta cultural heritage elements used in designing GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi.

Ross Barkley discusses Mississippi Delta cultural heritage elements used in designing GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi.

“This national student competition is requiring our architecture students to incorporate design elements that reflect local cultural heritage,” said Tucker. “These tours provided insights and a back story that we would never have been aware of just by visiting these museums by ourselves.”

“The Delta Center continues to fulfill its mission by providing place-based learning opportunities for students and visitors from around the state, the nation and the world,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center. “These customized educational experiences about the Mississippi Delta can only happen when groups come to visit us here in the Mississippi Delta.”

Lee Aylward of The Delta Center made arrangements for the students to experience a personalized tour of the GRAMMY Museum with Ross Barkley of Eley Barkley P.A. Engineering and Architecture. Barkley was one of the lead architects for the museum. The Eley Barkley firm is based in Cleveland.

“Mr. Barkley showed us program, concept and schematic design documents,” said Tucker. “These are excellent examples that our students will be able to use to ignite and inform their design process.” 

“Ross Barkley’s expertise in bringing projects like this to completion was invaluable to its final outcome,” added Aylward. “The GRAMMY Museum will stand as a testament to his talent and ability.”

During their visit to the B.B. King Museum, the students toured the existing museum structure and discussed plans for the museum’s expansion with Robert Terrell, director of operations. The expansion includes a memorial courtyard for the late B.B. King, known as the King of the Blues and Mississippi’s Secretary of the State of the Blues.

Robert Terrell talks with NOMAS members about plans for the B.B. King Memorial Courtyard.

Robert Terrell talks with NOMAS members about plans for the B.B. King Memorial Courtyard.

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Mississippi Blues Commission names B.B. King Secretary of State of the Blues

Blues legend B.B. King, Mississippi's Secretary of State of the Blues, surrounded by friends and admirers at the dedication of the "Kilmichael: B.B. King's Roots" Mississippi Blues Trail marker on Aug. 21, 2012 in Kilmichael, Miss. (Photo credit: Mississippi Blues Commission)

Blues legend B.B. King, Mississippi's Secretary of State of the Blues, surrounded by friends and admirers at the dedication of the "Kilmichael: B.B. King's Roots" Mississippi Blues Trail marker on Aug. 21, 2012 in Kilmichael, Miss. (Photo credit: Mississippi Blues Commission)

The Mississippi Blues Commission has designated music legend B.B. King as Mississippi’s Secretary of State of the Blues. One of the most renowned musicians in the world, King passed away in May of 2015.

Mississippi is the first and only state to recognize the contributions of a musician in this manner. The commission will be presenting the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center with a resolution for this recognition signed by Gov. Phil Bryant and the four living previous governors of Mississippi: Gov. William F. Winter, 1984-1988; Gov. Ray Mabus, 1988-1992; Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, 2000-2004; and Gov. Haley Barbour, 2004-2012. The resolution will be part of the permanent collection at the B.B. King Museum & Interpretive Center in Indianola, Miss.

The resolution will be presented at the International Conference on the Blues at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss. The conference, presented by the International Delta Blues Project and a diverse array of regional partners, includes a Blues Brunch featuring a panel discussion moderated by noted blues scholar Dr. William Ferris and comprised of members of the Mississippi Blues Commission. Blues legends Bobby Rush and James “Super Chikan” Johnson will also be in attendance. The presentation of the resolution will take place during the conference’s brunch event on Oct. 6 at 9:30 a.m. in the Delta Music Institute on Delta State’s campus.

“On behalf of the entire Mississippi Blues Commission, it is a privilege to honor B.B. King as our Mississippi Secretary of State of the Blues,” said J. Kempf Poole, chairman of the Mississippi Blues Commission. “Mr. King is one of Mississippi’s most influential sons, and with this designation I am proud to say that B.B. King has taken his rightful place at the head of the blues table.”

Known worldwide as “The King of the Blues,” King was considered one of the most influential musicians of all time. His artistic contributions and accolades are numerous and span decades. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the R&B Music Hall of Fame, King received more than a dozen GRAMMY Awards between 1970-2010, including the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award and a GRAMMY Hall of Fame Award for his historically significant recording “The Thrill is Gone.”

An emotional King is surrounded by Mississippi legislators in Jackson, Miss. as he is presented with a concurrent resolution naming Feb. 15, 2005, as B.B. King Day.   (Photo credit: Mississippi Blues Commission)

An emotional King is surrounded by Mississippi legislators in Jackson, Miss. as he is presented with a concurrent resolution naming Feb. 15, 2005, as B.B. King Day.
(Photo credit: Mississippi Blues Commission)

During the 1990s, he was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Medal of Arts, and the Kennedy Center Honors. During the 2000s, the Royal Swedish Academy of Music awarded him the Polar Music Prize, and President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from Tougaloo College, Yale University and Brown University, King was ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as No. 6 on its 2011 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

“Mississippi is known the world over as the birthplace of America’s music, and B.B. King is one of its founding legends and one of our state’s most treasured gifts to the music world,” said Gov. Phil Bryant. “For decades, our souls have been stirred by his talents. From juke joints to concert halls, there is no place his influence hasn’t reached. Deborah and I are saddened by B.B.’s passing. Mississippi has lost a legend. He is the king. The thrill is gone.”

Former Gov. Haley Barbour echoed Bryant’s sentiments.

“B.B. King was a wonderful ambassador for Mississippi,” said Barbour. “The King of the Blues never forgot Mississippi was home, and he graced us often with his presence. He will be missed. Marsha and I had him for lunch at the Governor’s Mansion on a day he was honored by the legislature. He was warm and delightful, but I will never forget how he gave credit to the people that had helped him throughout his career. He had a big heart as well as big talent.”

The Mississippi Blues Commission is a body of 18 appointed commissioners representing major organizations and geographic/political regions supporting blues initiatives throughout the state. One of the commission’s major projects is ongoing governance of the Mississippi Blues Trail, which began unofficially with two preliminary markers placed in Indianola, which King adopted as his hometown. Highlighting the importance of his contributions, the first marker was placed at a corner where King played as a young man. The other was placed at historic Club Ebony, which is now part of the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center.

Continuous expansion of the Mississippi Blues Trail throughout the state, country and the world is a testament to the global influence of blues music and culture. The Mississippi Blues Trail consists of more than 170 markers throughout the state. There also are 14 out-of-state Blues Trail markers, two of which are located outside of the U.S. — one in Norway, commemorating the Notodden Blues Festival, and the other in France, commemorating the Cahors Blues Festival.

“Local and global tourism and cultural heritage influences of the Mississippi Blues Trail will be discussed during the Blues Brunch at the International Conference on the Blues,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, a member of the Blues Commission, and director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. “Members of the commission will participate in a panel discussion moderated by Mississippi Delta native and blues and southern studies expert Dr. Bill Ferris from UNC Chapel Hill. This is an appropriate venue for the Mississippi Blues Commission to pay homage to B.B. King, a local hero whose musicianship and life achievements have helped to put the Mississippi Delta on the international map as a blues heritage destination.”

The Mississippi Blues Trail has been made possible by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Mississippi Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, AT&T, and the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University. The program is housed within and managed by the Mississippi Development Authority’s Visit Mississippi.

For more information, contact Mary Margaret Miller, bureau manager for Creative Economy & Culture at Visit Mississippi, at mmmiller@mississippi.org or 601-213-7300.

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/.

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B.B. King AllStar Choir to perform at Winning the Race

The B.B. King AllStar Choir will perform at the opening reception of the Winning the Race conference March 30 at 5:30 p.m. in the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

The B.B. King AllStar Choir will perform at the opening reception of the Winning the Race conference March 30 at 5:30 p.m. in the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

The B.B. King AllStar Choir will perform at the opening reception of the Winning the Race conference at Delta State University March 30. The reception takes place at the Bologna Performing Arts Center at 5:30 pm.

The opening event is sponsored by the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, The Delta Center for Culture and Learning, Vicksburg National Military Park and Eastern National for the National Park Service Centennial. The event will also feature special guest Robert Stanton, former director of the National Park Service. It will be free and open to the public.

The choir, which was founded in 2013, is sponsored by the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola. It is comprised of musically gifted youth grades six through twelve. They are selected by audition from communities throughout the Delta region, including Greenwood, Indianola, Cleveland, Boyle and Ruleville. 

“It has been a privilege and a joy to work with such talented, enthusiastic young singers,” said Dr. Cheryl L. Weiss, choir director. “We are pleased to be working with the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area to showcase some of the best and brightest young musicians that our region has to offer.”

The choir was one of only nine youth choirs selected to perform at the Crescent City Choral Festival in New Orleans. They also have sung for Governor Phil Bryant and other prominent Mississippi Politicians at the Delta Council Meeting, the WABG-TV March of Dimes Telethon and in a private concert for B.B. King. This spring they will sing the National Anthem for the Mississippi Braves baseball team and be featured at the Little Walter Music Festival in Alexandria, La.

Follow all Winning the Race conference updates at http://www.deltastate.edu/president/winning-the-race/.

The MDNHA is a partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service. The MDNHA was designated by U.S. Congress in 2009 and is governed by a board of directors representing agencies and organizations defined in the Congressional legislation. More information about the MDNHA, including the complete approved management plan, is available at www.msdeltaheritage.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 MDNHA and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.

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The King of the Blues & Dr. Brown

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Delta Center Recruits Delta State University Supporter

Photo: Restaurateur Willie Bates and the Delta Center’s Lee Aylward and Luther Brown in front of the Four Way Grill, 998 Mississippi Blvd, Memphis, TN 38126. Photo by Rachel Anderson.

Photo: Restaurateur Willie Bates and the Delta Center’s Lee Aylward and Luther Brown in front of the Four Way Grill, 998 Mississippi Blvd, Memphis, TN 38126. Photo by Rachel Anderson.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning recently ended a week-long workshop with a trip to Memphis. The 40 scholars who participated in the “The Most Southern Place on Earth:  Music, History and Culture of the Mississippi Delta” workshop visited the Cotton Museum, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, and the National Civil Rights Museum before watching the famous ducks walk in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel.  Lunch was provided by the Four Way Grill, a favorite soul food haunt of Martin Luther King, boxing promoter Don King, B. B. King, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, and Little Milton Campbell, all of whom have their pictures hanging in the restaurant.  

Founded in 1946, the Four Way is now operated by Willie Bates, a native of Shaw, Mississippi, who moved to Memphis as a boy. Bates said he was proud to receive a Delta State University pennant and would display it alongside his photos of famous patrons.

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Delta Center Welcomes Swedish Blues Fans

Photo: Swedish Blues fans at Po' Monkey's Lounge in Merigold. Photo by Lee Aylward.

Photo: Swedish Blues fans at Po' Monkey's Lounge in Merigold. Photo by Lee Aylward.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University recently provided an introduction to the Delta’s heritage to a group of 30 Swedish Blues Enthusiasts.  Individuals came from all over Sweden and included some Swedish speaking Americans as well.  The tour began in Memphis and ended in New Orleans.  Stops in the Delta included the Delta Blues Museum, Ground Zero and Red’s Lounge in Clarksdale, Po’ Monkey’s Lounge in Merigold, The Delta Center at DSU, Dockery Farms, the Senator’s Place in Cleveland, the B.B. King Museum, and Robert Johnson’s burial site.  Many of the tour participants were Blues musicians, and all were very well-read, enthusiastic students of the Mississippi Delta.  This was the third Delta tour by the Swedish travel company Travel Arena Falun, based in Falun, Sweden, and they expect to return to the Delta regularly.  

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Delta State University Enters Into Lease Agreement for the Establishment of GRAMMY® Museum Mississippi

PHOTO: From left, President of the Cleveland Music Foundation Lucy Janoush and Delta State University President Dr. John M. Hilpert sign the lease agreement for the establishment of GRAMMY® Museum Mississippi to be located on the Delta State University campus in Cleveland.

PHOTO: From left, President of the Cleveland Music Foundation Lucy Janoush and Delta State University President Dr. John M. Hilpert sign the lease agreement for the establishment of GRAMMY® Museum Mississippi to be located on the Delta State University campus in Cleveland.

Delta State University has entered into a lease agreement with the Cleveland Music Foundation to provide the property for the construction of the GRAMMY® Museum Mississippi in Cleveland.

On Friday, February 1, Delta State University President Dr. John M. Hilpert and Lucy Janoush, president of the Cleveland Music Foundation, the non-profit entity set to build the museum, signed a 99-year lease agreement designating a four-acre tract of property located on the south end of the Delta State golf course along Highway 8 as the site for the construction of the museum. Groundbreaking is tentatively set for late February.

As part of the agreement, the Cleveland Music Foundation will provide the funding and resources for the reconstruction of the golf course so that it remains a nine-hole facility.

The signing comes after Governor Phil Bryant’s recent presentation of a $1 million check to the Cleveland Music Foundation as the first installment for the establishment of the first official GRAMMY® museum outside of Los Angeles.

GRAMMY® Museum Mississippi will be a world-class, 20,000 plus square foot facility dedicated to exploring the past, present and future of music and the cultural context from which it emerges. The museum’s permanent exhibition will utilize film, video, interactive kiosks and, of course, music.

The museum will be closely affiliated with the Delta Music Institute (DMI), Delta State’s accredited program of music industry studies. A student exchange program will be developed between GRAMMY® Museum Mississippi and GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE to offer qualified DMI students opportunities to earn college credit and interact with their counterparts at Los Angeles area colleges and universities.

“This is important not only to the Delta Music Institute, but to the entire university,” said Hilpert. “We anticipate the participation of many faculty and students in the establishment and operation of GRAMMY® Museum Mississippi.  This is a very meaningful project to all constituencies of the university, and I want to thank Lucy Janoush and the board of the Cleveland Music Foundation for their hard work toward driving this project to completion.”

GRAMMY® Museum Mississippi will present a unique economic development opportunity for Mississippi. Partnering with one of the world’s most recognized brands will help cement the state’s claim as “The Birthplace of America’s Music.” Mississippi has invested in a number of projects to honor its unique culture and heritage; among them are the Mississippi Blues and Country Music Trail markers, the B.B. King Museum, the Delta Blues Museum and the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center.

“This project would not be remotely possible without Delta State University’s participation and support,” said Janoush.  “We are so thankful to Dr. Hilpert and DMI Director Tricia Walker and her students for their efforts in helping to bring GRAMMY® Museum Mississippi to Cleveland.”

"GRAMMY® Museum Mississippi represents not only a fantastic cultural attraction for our state, highlighting Mississippi’s amazing contribution to American music, but it will offer the next generation of young music industry professionals an exciting entry point into today’s music industry,” said Walker. “The GRAMMY brand is a worldwide brand, it has the power to open a lot of doors and opportunities for our students.”

For information about GRAMMY® Museum Mississippi or the Delta Music Institute, contact the DMI office at (662) 846-4579 or dmi@deltastate.edu

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