Delta

Delta Center, CCED Participate in Rural Community Development Research Panel Discussion

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 entitled, “The Great Recession, Its Aftermath, and Patterns of Rural and Small Town Demographic Change.”

   Sixteen scholars from research institutions from 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, and they 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 entitled, Population Trends in Post-Recession Rural America. Interested readers should check the website periodically as new publications are released (http://w3001.apl.wisc.edu/). 

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. 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 (WAAESD). 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. 

Linda Stringfellow

Aurelia Jones-Taylor

Desta Reff

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Delta Center presents at Jus Blues Conference

Performer Dorothy Moore wows the crowd at the "Blues Got A Soul" Technology Conference sponsored by the Jus Blues Music Foundation on July 31 at the Horseshoe Casino & Hotel in Tunica, Miss.

Performer Dorothy Moore wows the crowd at the "Blues Got A Soul" Technology Conference sponsored by the Jus Blues Music Foundation on July 31 at the Horseshoe Casino & Hotel in Tunica, Miss.

Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning, recently gave a presentation at the “Blues Got A Soul” Technology Conference sponsored by the Jus Blues Music Foundation. The conference was held July 31, at the Horseshoe Casino & Hotel in Tunica, Miss.

The purpose of the conference was to share information, resources and emerging opportunities related to the blues music industry. Herts’ presentation, titled “Blues in the Delta: Tourism, Education, and the Creative Economy,” provided an overview of The Delta Center’s work with the International Delta Blues Project, the Mississippi Blues Commission and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area.

“I invited Dr. Herts to present at the conference because people in the blues industry need to know about the important work that The Delta Center and Delta State University are doing,” said Charles Mitchell, director of the Jus Blues Music Foundation. “Dr. Herts talked about Delta State’s International Conference on the Blues that is coming up in October. He also talked about the Mississippi Blues Trail and the Benevolent Fund that provides support to musicians who have kept the blues alive.

“The Blues has contributed so much to our world artistically and economically. Our conference attendees were glad to learn that Mississippi has such a fund available. Many of these artists are aging and in poor health. Some have gotten bad financial advice during their careers. Sources of financial assistance like this are critical to our industry.”

Conference presenters included (l to r) Jonathan Mason; Allen Johnston; professor Sandra “SANA” Foster; Charles Mitchell, director of the Jus Blues Foundation; Dr. Rolando Herts; and Rojene Bailey.

Conference presenters included (l to r) Jonathan Mason; Allen Johnston; professor Sandra “SANA” Foster; Charles Mitchell, director of the Jus Blues Foundation; Dr. Rolando Herts; and Rojene Bailey.

Other topics discussed at the conference included legal concerns for musicians, international opportunities for blues artists, blues radio syndication formats, and history and social healing purposes of the blues. Presenters included professor Sandra “SANA” Foster of Clark Atlanta University, entertainment attorney Jonathan Mason, radio personality Rojene Bailey and music business expert Allen Johnston.

The conference was held in conjunction with the 15th annual Jus’ Blues Music Awards held at Bluesville, a state-of-the-art performance venue inside the Horseshoe Casino & Hotel. The event honored important blues and soul artists and music professionals who have contributed much of their lives to advancing and promoting blues music and culture.

Honorees included Kenny Neal, Betty Wright, Fred Wesley, Lucky Peterson, Martha High and Vaneese Thomas, daughter of Stax Records legend, Rufus Thomas. Also, various artists performed, including 16-year-old Mississippi Delta-based Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, who recently played for President Obama and the First Lady at the White House.

“Both the conference and the awards program were educational and informative,” said Herts. “The conference provided practical information as well as scholarly insights about the blues. The awards program provided an opportunity to hear the stories of blues artists, their contributions and their accomplishments. I met so many visitors from other states like Illinois, Georgia, Florida and even California. This event definitely generated tourism activity in the Mississippi Delta region, so it is great that Jus Blues chose Tunica as the place to host it. Hopefully, they will continue to host it right here in the Delta, the home of the blues.”

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 National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshop and the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visithttp://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area 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 athttp://www.msdeltaheritage.com.

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Delta Center speaks to Leland Rotary

Delta Center staff establish one of the new locations participating in the MDNHA Passport Program.

Delta Center staff establish one of the new locations participating in the MDNHA Passport Program.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning was recently asked to be a guest at the Leland Rotary Club. Dr. Rolando Herts, director of the Delta Center and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, gave the audience an update on the MDNHA and its new Passport Program.

Delta Center staff members Lee Aylward and Heather Miller briefed the group on how the MDNHA Passport Program is working to bring tourists to the Delta region.

The Delta Center then delivered passport stations to two Leland locations that have elected to take part in the program — the Kermit the Frog Museum and the Highway 61 Blues Museum.

The MDNHA sponsored the initial placement of one passport station in each of the Delta’s 18 counties. In Washington County, where Leland is located, the first passport was placed at the Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Leland is the first municipality in the Delta to sponsor its own participation in the program by purchasing passport stations.

“The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area is pleased that Leland has taken the initiative to sponsor passport stations in their community through these iconic museums,” said Herts. “All MDNHA municipalities have the same opportunity to participate in the Passport Program. When done in a strategic way, participation in the program can encourage increased visitor activity, including local dining and shopping, as well as positive word of mouth about community attractions.”

Photos of the Leland passport stations will be included on the official list of MDNHA Passport Program locations, available at http://www.msdeltaheritage.com/ms-delta-national-heritage-area-mdnha-passport/.

Delta-based municipalities, businesses, cultural attractions, heritage sites, or other organizations that are interested in participating in the Passport Program should contact The Delta Center regarding the application process. For more information, call 662-846-4311 or email Heather Miller at hmiller@deltastate.edu.

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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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Delta Center provides a tour for a Jewish group

The Delta Center recently gave a tour to the TENT group.

The Delta Center recently gave a tour to the TENT group.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University recently provided an introduction to the Delta for the TENT group sponsored by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson.

The TENT program is a series of week-long seminars that immerse 21-30 year old Jews in full impact experiences of culture, cuisine and community. This group was led Rachel Myers of the Institute who described the week- long program as “beginning in New Orleans and spending a week travelling the Delta exploring the Jewish experience in one of this nation’s most distinctive, complicated, and fascinating regions, discovering the best that the South has to offer.

Music, art, food, and visits to Jewish communities large and small made this a week the participants will never forget. On their stop in Cleveland, they were introduced to the Delta by Dr. Rolando Herts and Lee Aylward of the Delta Center. They enjoyed a meal with the congregation of Temple Adath Israel and topped the evening off with a visit to Po Monkey’s, one of the last surviving rural juke joints or “jook” houses, as documented by Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston and blues folklorist Barry Lee Pearson.

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New faculty learn about Delta

A group of new faculty members at Delta State University were treated to an introduction of the Mississippi Delta and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area by Dr. Rolando Herts and Lee Aylward of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning on Oct. 30.

Dr. Beverly Moon, dean of Graduate and Continuing Studies and Research, organized the educational session at the Charlie Capps Archives & Museum. Emily Jones, university archivist, also provided an overview of various resources and services available at the facility.

Those who participated in the session included (l to r): Amy McAdams, instructor in health, physical education and recreation; Dr. Fatematul Jannat, visiting assistant professor in social justice and criminology; Dr. Amit Verma, assistant professor of logistics; Melaku Tadesse, assistant professor of commercial aviation; Eric Owens, visiting instructor in social justice and criminology; Dr. James Gerald, assistant professor of physics; Lee Aylward, Delta Center; Dr. Sharon Hamilton, assistant professor of chemistry; Kalilah Kemp, instructor in HPER/athletic training clinical education coordinator; Dr. Rolando Herts, director, Delta Center; and Emily Jones, university archivist.

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Delta Center director receives service award

L to R: Heather Miller and Lee Aylward of the Delta Center, Dr. Henry Outlaw, formerly of the Delta Center, and Dr. Charles McAdams, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Delta State.

L to R: Heather Miller and Lee Aylward of the Delta Center, Dr. Henry Outlaw, formerly of the Delta Center, and Dr. Charles McAdams, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Delta State.

The Mississippi Heritage Trust recently awarded Dr. Luther Brown, Director of the Delta State Delta Center for Culture and Learning and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area the “Heritage Award for Distinguished Service.”

“I’m deeply honored to receive this award in recognition of the establishment of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. Many people and numerous entities have worked hard to make this Heritage Area possible, and some have worked for over a decade to see this happen,” said Brown.

This recognition is in honor of all of these individuals and groups who have partnered to promote the Delta’s heritage, and I thank them for their continued enthusiasm and hard work.”

The Delta Center is the manager of the Heritage Area. The award was presented in Tupelo during the Mississippi Heritage Trust’s annual meeting. Dr. Brown could not attend in person, so Lee Aylward of the Delta Center accepted the award on his behalf.

“It is very fitting that Dr. Brown has been recognized by the Mississippi Heritage Trust at its bi-annual meeting with an award for Distinguished Service. From its inception fourteen years ago, the Delta Center through his leadership has introduced hundreds in this country and abroad  to the importance of the Mississippi Delta to our country and to the rest of the world, and it is through his efforts that the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area is being established,” said Aylward.

His work will remain as a standard for others to continue this important work.”

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Delta Center for Culture and Learning Participates in NEH Workshop

   Photo: Bill Abel

 

Photo: Bill Abel

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State recently hosted a workshop called “The Most Southern Place on Earth:  Music, History and Culture of the Mississippi Delta” workshop.  The workshop is held twice a year by the Center, with major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) program known as Landmarks in American History and Culture.  Each workshop admits forty teachers from anywhere in the U.S.  The session lasts for six days, and examines the Delta’s heritage in the Blues, religion, Civil Rights, foodways, and other important manners.  

Tim Shaw, a top-notch instrument maker and elementary art teacher, was able to reunite with bluesman Bill Abel while attending.

Shaw first met Abel when they did a workshop together last summer. Shaw had been making cigar box guitars for a year when he learned of Abel’s cigar box show at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs. Shaw’s wife got her husband and his friends permission to be in Abel’s show through the cultural center.

“I spent two days with him down there at the cultural center. We immediately hit it off,” Shaw said. “I called my wife after the first day and I said, ‘I have met my Jesus.’”

The two have been in touch since, but Shaw’s being at Abel’s performance during the NEH workshop was a complete surprise.

“I didn’t tell him I was coming,” Shaw said. “Yesterday when he was unloading his stuff I came here early to help, and I said, ‘Remember me?’ And he just couldn’t believe I was here.”

   Photo: Tim Shaw

 

Photo: Tim Shaw

After Abel’s show on Wednesday night, Shaw demonstrated his skills on Abel’s cigar box guitar. Shaw said that while he has always been interested in music, he only became a musician in his early 30’s.

“I worked with two guys who were surprised that I didn’t play anything because I knew so much about music,” Shaw said. “They set out on a mission to teach me to play. One of them played the drums, the other one played guitar. They decided they were going to teach me the bass so we could have a band.”

From playing instruments, Shaw became interested in making them. During his quest to make a solid-body electric guitar, he encountered a news clip about a man who made cigar box guitars on the coast. Shaw visited the artist’s gallery in Bay St. Louis with some friends the following Sunday and ended up buying one of the artist’s cigar box guitars.

“I took it home and took it apart and looked at it and thought, ‘Huh, this is interesting. I think I can do this,’” Shaw said. “And so my endeavor to make solid body electric guitars took a left turn to cigar box guitars.”

Shaw, whose projects are usually commissioned, says that the six-day workshop has left him inspired.

“I’m really excited about this workshop. I’ve already designed three new guitars,” Shaw said. “I can’t wait to go home and make them. They’re going to be blues themed.”

For more information, contact the Delta Center at 662-846-4311 or Luther Brown at lbrown@deltastate.edu

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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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