Mississippi Celebrates Grammy® With Star-Studded Gala

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Rock 'n roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis, gospel music greats The Williams Brothers, country icon Marty Stuart, jam band blues-rock sensations The North Mississippi All Stars as well as Swedish pop music superstar Carola join with Governor Haley Barbour to bring home the message of Mississippi's ongoing "Birthplace of America's Music" for at a gala Celebrating A 50 Year Grammy Legacy. Co-sponsored by Peavey Electronics and the Mississippi Development Authority, the event is set for the evening of April 26th at the Marriott Hotel Ballroom in downtown Jackson, MS, preceded by a reception at the Governor's Mansion.

Mississippi's future Grammy prospects

The State of Mississippi's ongoing "Birthplace of America's Music" campaign will get a huge boost later this month when Governor Haley Barbour hosts Celebrating A 50 Year Grammy Legacy set for April 26th in Jackson, MS.

Sponsored by Peavey Electronics and the Mississippi Development Authority, the event will take place at the Marriott Hotel Ballroom in downtown Jackson, MS, preceded by a reception at the Governor's Mansion, hosted by Governor Barbour and First Lady Marsha Barbour. The evening's focus will be performances by rock 'n roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis, gospel greats The Williams Brothers, country music icon Marty Stuart, jam band rock sensations The North Mississippi All Stars as well as Swedish pop music superstar Carola. The many styles and genres of these artists reflect the diversity of music that Mississippi has spawned. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the Mississippi Blues Foundation whose Blues Trail project places interpretive markers at notable historical sites related to the history and growth of the blues throughout the state.

In addition to performances by the established stars as noted, the evening will also include a performance circumstance - a medley of songs associated with Mississippi and Mississippi artists - by a group of up and coming Mississippi-based artists who have been dubbed "Mississippi's future Grammy prospects" by the event organizers. This portion of the evening's program will showcase the talents of blues-rock artist Scott Albert Johnson; Soulfire, a rhythm and blues group as well as Sweet Water Jade, a female country vocal trio.

The event will offer a salute to the numerous Grammy Award winners and nominees, from the state that gave the world Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Faith Hill, John Lee Hooker, Tammy Wynette, Charlie Pride, Van Dyke Parks, Conway Twitty, Jimmie Lunceford and so many others. Since the inception of The Recording Academy®'s Grammy Award in 1958, a disproportionate number of winners - more than forty - and a vast number of nominees have been Mississippians. In announcing the event, Governor Barbour noted, "Mississippi Grammy Night is a powerful and entertaining way to recognize our state's heritage as the 'Birthplace of America's Music.' This special event will showcase Mississippi artists with phenomenal talents and launch a new level of recognition for our distinct and unique musical culture." Beyond the artists set to perform at the gala, it is expected that a significant number of Mississippi recording artists will be in attendance to lend their support to their home state music initiatives.

Jon Hornyak, Senior Executive Director of The Recording Academy's Memphis Chapter commented, "The Recording Academy is very supportive of this celebration of Grammy winners and nominees from Mississippi. With over forty Grammy Award winners in a variety of genres, the state's incredible influence is undeniable."

Ticket information for Mississippi - Birthplace of America's Music Celebrates A 50 Year Grammy Legacy is available by calling 601-576-2020

About the performing artists

With the exception of Carola, all of the headline artists set to perform at the event were born in or are long-term residents of Mississippi. Carola's involvement reflects the far-reaching impact of Mississippi music and the fact that she has enjoyed international success with hits songs associated with Elvis Presley. Born Carola Maria Häggkvist, but professionally known only by her first name, she represented Sweden three times in the Eurovision song contest, most recently just last year, and enjoyed tremendous chart success with an Elvis Presley medley. She is one of Sweden's top musical exports since the advent of ABBA.

Jerry Lee Lewis, a long time resident of Hernando, MS, one of the very first artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has enjoyed a phenomenal career that dates back to before the inception of the Grammy Awards. As a Sun Records artist, he came to prominence under the same auspices as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins. He continues to draw audiences around the world and just last year released Last Man Standing, an album of duet performances where he was joined by Bruce Springsteen, B.B. King, Little Richard, Eric Clapton, Toby Keith, Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Neil Young, Jimmy Page and others. He is a Grammy Award winner, a recipient of The Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award and two of his recordings - "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" and "Great Balls of Fire" -- are in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

The Williams Brothers today are comprised of Melvin Williams, Doug Williams, Henry Green and date back to 1960, just two years after Grammy's inception, when Leon "Pop" Williams founded the group. They began recording in 1973 and, on their own Blackberry Records, the first black-owned and operated record label in Mississippi, have received six Grammy nominations as they continue to dominate the soul gospel genre with three #1 Billboard singles and sixteen top ten albums. With their constant output of new recordings and original compositions, The Williams Brothers are widely considered the most prolific quartet within the entire gospel genre.

Marty Stuart was born in Philadelphia, MS just a few months prior to the first Grammy Award ceremony. He started performing bluegrass before his teen years began and worked with such greats of the genre as Lester Flatt, Vassar Clements and Doc Watson. Johnny Cash became his country music mentor in 1980 when Stuart joined the Cash's backing band and started releasing singles and albums on his own within five years. A member of The Grand Ole Opry for two decades, he is a past President of the Country Music Foundation, he continues to serve on the organization's board and has authored several scholarly works on country music history for the CMF Journal. He is a four time Grammy Award winner.

The North Mississippi All Stars, a blues-rock trio that includes brothers Luther (guitar) and Cody Dickinson (drums) and Chris Chew (bass), has been a centerpiece of blues-rock within the jam band movement for more than ten years. Their very first release, Shake Hands With Shorty was nominated for a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album and they have since received two additional nominations. Luther and Cody are the sons of legendary music producer/session man Jim Dickinson and grew up in Hernando County, MS where they were exposed to the area's endemic hill country blues as performed by R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, both huge influences on the blues-infused musical direction the band would take. They are heard on the soundtrack to the film Black Snake Moan and are one of the headline bands booked to play this year's Bonaroo Festival.

About the sponsors

Event co-sponsor Peavey Electronics was founded in 1965 by Hartley Peavey who, the year prior to the first Grammy Award, built his first amplifier in the basement of his family's home in Meridian, MS. Today, Peavey is still based in Meridian but does business in 136 countries through 33 - most of which are in Mississippi - and leads the industry in patents and innovations. 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. Luther Dickinson of the three-time Grammy nominated North Mississippi All Stars says "Peavey is the sound of the Mississippi juke joint. That's our sound and we take it around the world."

The Mississippi Development Authority is the State of Mississippi's lead economic and community development agency. 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 it's Asset Development Group pursues innovative ways to develop unique Mississippi assets such as cultural heritage, natural resources and small town life styles.

Bob Merlis/MFH
bobmerlis @ bobmerlis.com

Peavey Electronics:
Jim Beaugez
jimb @ peavey.com

Mississippi Development Authority
Craig Ray
CRAY @ mississippi.org

The Recording Academy
Lourdes Lopez
lourdesl @ grammy.com


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