Mississippi Celebrates its GRAMMY® Legacy with Star-Studded Gala Hosted by Governor Barbour

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Mississippi Celebrates its GRAMMY® Legacy: Tickets Available Now

Governor Haley Barbour and First Lady Marsha Barbour will host the fifth annual Mississippi celebration of its GRAMMY® legacy at 7:30 p.m. June 7, 2011, at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi. The list of performers and honorees include 15-time GRAMMY winner B.B. King, GRAMMY nominees North Mississippi Allstars Duo, Benjamin Wright, Jimbo Mathus, Shannon McNally, Jay Dean and the Tropical World of Tango and host Joey Lauren Adams.

In announcing the event, Governor Barbour said, “Each year’s GRAMMY event is a great success and allows us to reflect on the impact Mississippi artists have had on our music, from Elvis to B.B. King to Leontyne Price, Mississippians have truly influenced all forms of musical styles from rock to opera. If it’s music, it’s Mississippi.”

Sponsored by Peavey Electronics®, the world-renowned music and sound innovators, and the Mississippi Development Authority, the event is a continuation of Mississippi’s salute each year to the GRAMMYS. The program relates to the contributions of Mississippians to American’s musical heritage and GRAMMY recognition on multiple levels. Other event sponsors include: Cellular South, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, AT&T, Allergan, FedEx, Mississippi Power, Toyota Motor Manufacturing and Yates Construction.

Jon Hornyak, Senior Executive Director of The Recording Academy Memphis Chapter,
commented, “The Recording Academy is very supportive of Mississippi’s annual celebration of GRAMMY winners and nominees. Mississippi blues, country, gospel, soul and rock ‘n’ roll artists are at the center of American music and that legacy is apparent in the number of Mississippians who have been recognized by The Recording Academy with GRAMMY Awards, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame® inductions and Lifetime Achievement Awards recipients. With more than 40 GRAMMY Award winners in a variety of genres the state’s incredible influence is undeniable.”

The GRAMMY legacy event will be preceded by a reception at the hotel, hosted by the Governor and First Lady, where the Governor and Hartley Peavey of Peavey Electronics will present the Peavey Awards to participating performing artists. The Peavey Awards honor individuals who have played a significant role in developing and furthering Mississippi's musical heritage

About the Performers

B.B. King
In the more than 60-year-long journey that has taken him from Delta juke joints to Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and European opera palaces, 15-time GRAMMY winner B.B. King has come to personify the blues for the world.

King's first big break came in 1948 when he performed on Sonny Boy Williamson's radio program on KWEM in West Memphis, which eventually led to a ten-minute slot on the Memphis radio station WDIA. “King's Spot,” became so popular, it was expanded and became the “Sepia Swing Club.” When King needed a catchy radio name, what started out as Beale Street Blues Boy was shortened to Blues Boy King and eventually B.B. King.

In more than 50 albums and thousands of concerts, Riley B. King has brought Mississippi blues to every corner of the planet. He’s still on the road. Playing more than 250 dates a year, his list of hits includes “The Thrill is Gone” and “Everyday, I Have the Blues,” and his groundbreaking live album, “Live at the Regal” – all GRAMMY Hall of Fame inductees – and such classics as “Payin’ The Cost To Be The Boss,” “How Blue Can You Get,” “Why I Sing The Blues,” “Three O'Clock Blues,” “Rock Me Baby” and “Sweet Sixteen.”

King was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. That same year he received The Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award. King has received honorary doctorates from Tougaloo (Miss.) College, Yale University, Berklee College of Music, Rhodes College (Memphis), Mississippi Valley State University and Brown University. In 1992, he received the National Award of Distinction from the University of Mississippi.

In 1991, B.B. King's Blues Club opened on Beale Street in Memphis and to date there are six clubs that bear his name across the country. In 2008, the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center opened in Indianola. At the museum, the life of B.B. King provides the backdrop for the museum to share the rich cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta.

At 85, B.B. King remains the world’s blues ambassador and the best friend the Mississippi blues ever had, always proudly telling his audiences, no matter what the language barrier, about his roots in Indianola and playing the music he learned there.

The North Mississippi Allstars Duo
Growing up in the Mississippi hill country, Luther and Cody Dickinson were born into music. The brothers grew up surrounded by the sounds created by their father, legendary musician/producer/musical philosopher Jim Dickinson, absorbing the North Mississippi Blues legacy, playing and shaking it down at local juke joints with their blues ancestors. In 1996, inspired by the area’s Hill Country blues tradition of R.L. Burnside, Fred McDowell, Junior Kimbrough, and Otha Turner, the Dickinson brothers added bass player Chris Chew and formed the North Mississippi Allstars.

After more than a decade of touring and earning GRAMMY nominations for three of their five albums, the brothers decided to branch out and pursue other projects. In 2008, Luther played guitar and mandolin on the Black Crowes’ release “Warpaint” and soon joined the band full time. In 2009 he formed the South Memphis String Band with Alvin Youngblood Hart and another of this year’s Mississippi GRAMMY Legacy performers, Jimbo Mathus, releasing the acclaimed Home Sweet Home. Meanwhile, Cody swapped his drums and washboard for a guitar to form his Hill Country Revue, releasing his debut “Make A Move” in May of 2009, followed by “Zebra Ranch” in 2010. The band toured heavily behind the release, sharing stages with The Dave Matthews Band, Gov’t Mule and Big Head Todd & the Monsters.

Today, Luther and Cody are again North Mississippi Allstars. Performing as a duo, Luther and Cody have been on tour opening for Robert Plant’s Band of Joy. Their newest album, Keys to the Kingdom, finds the Dickinson brothers reunited creating brand-new Mississippi blues traditions, bringing the Hill Country Blues sound to new audiences the world over.

Benjamin Wright
Renowned arranger/composer/bandleader Benjamin F. Wright Jr. learned what it took to turn a bunch of musicians into a band when he was a high school Drum Major in his hometown of Greenville, Mississippi. A skilled pianist as well, Wright went on the road after high school with national R&B star Ted Taylor. Proving his versatility as backup vocalist and arranger for the group, Wright was soon in high demand for tours and recordings, working with such giants of soul as James Brown, Otis Redding, Billy Stewart (“Summertime”) and Gladys Knight & the Pips. He continued working in Chicago’s Pieces of Peace, recording and touring with Jackie Wilson, The Chi-Lites, Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield, The Impressions, Tyrone Davis and The Dells. Wright later became The Dells’ musical director.

As the R&B industry shifted to Los Angeles in the mid-‘70s, Wright headed west, becoming musical director for The Temptations, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin and Barry White. He arranged strings for Michael Jackson’s 1979 solo breakthrough “Off The Wall” and wrote the Grammy Award-winning “Find 100 Ways” sung by James Ingram on Quincy Jones’ “The Dude.”

In the 1980s he opened Ritesonian Recording Studio. He recently moved into sacred music. In 2002, he became Dr. Wright, receiving an honorary doctorate from the Pentecostal Bible College in Tuskegee, Alabama. He has continued arranging and composing R&B, working with Justin Timberlake, Mary J. Blige, Outkast and on Michael Jackson’s posthumous “Michael.”

In January of this year, Dr. Benjamin Wright, Jr. was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame. From high school Drum Major to R&B icon, Dr. Benjamin Wright always keeps the beat.

Jimbo Mathus
After leading his Squirrel Nut Zippers to platinum success and topping the charts with his unique mix of quirky calypso and hyper ragtime, Jimbo Mathus came home to Mississippi’s Sunflower County. Here, he has explored his Delta roots as the catalyst behind Buddy Guy’s 21st century breakthrough albums, the GRAMMY-nominated “Sweet Tea” and the GRAMMY-winning “Blues Singer” and contributed vocals to the North Mississippi Allstars’ 2006 GRAMMY-nominated “Electric Blue Watermelon.” Working from his home in Clarksdale, Jimbo is recognized as the prolific songwriter of born-in-the-bone Southern music, the torchbearer for Deep South mythology and culture. Most recently, he received a GRAMMY-nomination for his participation as a member of Luther Dickinson & The Sons of Mudboy on the Jim Dickinson memorial album, “Onward and Upward.” He also joined forces with Luther and Alvin Youngblood Hart, forming the retro-roots “supergroup” South Memphis String Band for their critically lauded debut, “Home Sweet Home.” Jimbo’s latest release is “Confederate Buddha” on Memphis International. He recorded the album with backing by The Tri-State Coalition, his current band, cut from the same Delta cloth. A leader of the Mississippi roots revival, Jimbo Mathus describes his new album as “...a true Southern amalgam of blues, white country, soul and rock ‘n’ roll.” In other words, real American music is from The Birthplace of America’s Music.

Shannon McNally
A recently-minted Mississippian, singer-songwriter Shannon McNally makes her home in Holly Springs, but she’s long been steeped in a variety of Magnolia State musical traditions. She’s equally at home belting out a vintage blues, singing a heartfelt Jimmie Rodgers country classic or soulfully performing one of her own well-crafted songs from her acclaimed albums “Coldwater,” “Geronimo” and “Jukebox Sparrows.” She worked with the late, legendary Mississippi musician/producer Jim Dickinson on what would be one of his final projects. She was nominated for a GRAMMY for her work on the Dickinson tribute album, “Onward and Upward,” part of an ensemble featuring many of the finest of the new breed of innovative Mississippi musicians, including Jim’s son Luther Dickinson and Jimbo Mathus. Her latest recording project is “Western Ballad,” on her record label Sacred Sumac.

Jay Dean and the Tropical World of Tango
Jay Dean is the music director of the University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held since1988. During his tenure, the orchestra has cultivated an international reputation that enhances not only the University, but also the state and region. His vision has brought the world to Mississippi, including performances by Plácido Domingo, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Sir James Galway, Patti LaBelle, Doc Severinsen, Ray Charles and countless others.

He has also served as the guest conductor for many orchestras in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. The symphony performs to full houses with audience members representing a diverse cross-section of the southeastern United States.

From the suburbs of Buenos Aires to the salons of the European high society, Tango dance and music evolved as a unique fusion of Afro-Spanish rhythms and European styles in the melting pot of turn-of-the-century Buenos Aires. Tango’s evolution followed the same path as its musical brother, jazz. These two brothers met each other in the work of Astor Piazzolla, the creator of “Nuevo Tango.” For the Mississippi GRAMMY Legacy celebration, Jay Dean, Alejandro Drago and the Tango Rendezvous Ensemble will dazzle the audience with a medley of Piazzolla's most acclaimed concert Tangos, specially arranged for tonight’s ceremony. Tango Rendezvous is an ensemble of professional musicians, all of whom have a personal and musical connection with Mississippi.

Joey Lauren Adams (host)
As an actress in both studio and independent films, Adams has enjoyed a long string of commercial and critical successes. Her most acclaimed performance in the hit film Chasing Amy earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. Originally hailing from North Little Rock, Arkansas, Adams began acting early in life, performing at local church productions. Arriving in Los Angeles as a teenager, she soon received her first big break with roles on television shows such as “Married With Children” and “Top Of The Heap.” She moved into feature films such as “Dazed And Confused,” “Coneheads,” “S.F.W.,” “Michael,” “Bio-Dome,” “Mallrats,” “Big Daddy,” “Bruno,” “Harvard Man” and “The Break Up.”

About the Sponsors
Event co-sponsor Peavey Electronics was founded in 1965 by Hartley Peavey, who built his first amplifier in the basement of his family’s home in Meridian, Miss., the year prior to the first GRAMMY Awards. Today, Peavey is one of the world’s largest manufacturers and suppliers of musical instruments and professional sound equipment, and is an industry leader in patents and innovations. Peavey and its family of brands can be found on countless stages and in more than 5,000 airports, stadiums, theme parks and other major venues around the world. Just as Mississippi bluesmen and early rock and rollers inspired Hartley Peavey to pursue his music dreams, so do his musical instruments and sound equipment continue to inspire musicians around the world. It is safe to suggest that virtually every GRAMMY nominee and winner has used Peavey products on stages and in studios over the course of the past fifty years. http://www.peavey.com

The Mississippi Development Authority is the State of Mississippi’s lead economic and community development agency, which also includes the state’s promotional Tourism Division.
The Tourism Division works to enhance and promote Mississippi’s culture, heritage, and history.
More than 250 employees are engaged in providing services to businesses, communities and workers in the state. The MDA’s Economic Development Group focuses its efforts in traditional business recruitment and retention, community development, tourism development and export development while its Asset Development Group pursues innovative ways to develop unique Mississippi assets such as cultural heritage, natural resources and small town life styles.
http://www.mississippi.org http://www.visitmississippi.org

CONTACTS:
Artists/event
Bob Merlis/MFH
323.962.687
bobmerlis(at)bobmerlis(dot)com

Peavey Electronics
Jim Beaugez
601.486.1474
jim(dot)beaugez(at)peavey(dot)com

Beau Rivage Resort & Casino - Biloxi
Mary Cracchiolo Spain
228.386.7134
mspain(at)beaurivage(dot)com

Mississippi Development Authority/Tourism Division
Sandy Bynum
601.359.3297
sbynum(at)mississippi(dot)org

Governor’s Office
Laura Hipp
601.576.2020
lhipp(at)governor(dot)state(dot)ms(dot)us

The Recording Academy
Lourdes Lopez
310.581.8770
LourdesL(at)grammy(dot)com

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Sandy Bynum
Mississippi Development Authority
(601) 359-5750
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