By Johnny Cole
Photos by Stephen Anderson
The Southland Music Line is proud of our own roots here in the state of Mississippi, the “Birthplace of America’s Music.” For the past ten years, we have traveled across the entire southeastern region of the country, including Mississippi, in search of interesting stories and outstanding new music. Along the way, we have written about the rich musical heritage associated with the place that we call home.
Before my job-related midsummer journey to Europe, I was joined by Stephen “Andy” Anderson and Deborah Chatham on our latest trip to the famous Mississippi Delta, an area that famously gave birth to the blues. We at The Southland Music Line have made this trip within our home state a number of times and have always enjoyed it. Whether it has been traveling to Clarksdale in 2017 to see the Jericho Road Show and Lightnin’ Malcolm perform at The Shack Up Inn or attending B.B. King’s Final Homecoming Festival in Indianola, there is something very rewarding about our adventures to the Delta.
Mississippi Songwriters Festival: Delta Region 2023 featured two very enlightening educational seminars on Sat. June 17.
Beginning on Friday, June 16 through the following evening, The Mississippi Songwriters Alliance was having its first Mississippi Songwriters Festival for the Delta region, which was held at the historic Ellis Theatre in Cleveland, Mississippi.
This inaugural event featured two nights of performances by both established and up-and-coming songwriters. Along with its annual festival held each September on the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Songwriters Alliance has plans of hosting four additional festivals around the state, including this one in the Delta region. The other three regional festivals (Pines, Hills, and Capital River) are now being planned. The event in Cleveland not only had lots of great music, but also offered two music business seminars for festival attendees: “90 Minutes To Your Best Lyric” (presented by Clay Mills, a 2022 Mississippi Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductee), and “Songwriting, Music Publishing, Licensing, And Record Labels In An Independent World” (presented by Sean Gasaway, Education Coordinator for the Mississippi Songwriters Alliance).
The Mississippi Songwriters Alliance has several statewide programs already in motion, including its “Educational Outreach” and “The Ambassador Program”, The monthly “Songs and Stories” held at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Arts Center in Ocean Springs has been a longtime success as it showcases talented songwriters from across the state and abroad. Also, The annual Mississippi Songwriters Hall of Fame continues inducting some amazing songwriters, and this year is no exception as it honors Jimmie Rodgers, Bo Diddley, Elsie McWilliams, Jim Weatherly, and Don Poythress. The induction ceremony will once again be held at the festival on the Gulf Coast in September. We are excited to see the Hall of Fame officially get a home, too, as part of the Mississippi Songwriter Performing Arts Center being built in Gautier, Mississippi. We encourage our readers to follow The Mississippi Songwriters Alliance and Festival on their website. We will also be writing more about the upcoming festival and Hall of Fame in articles coming soon.
Sean Gasaway (singer-songwriter, music producer, and educator) is the Education Coordinator for the Mississippi Songwriters Alliance.
Our visit to Cleveland, Mississippi could not have been more enjoyable. On Saturday morning of the festival, we were able to visit the nearby Grammy Music Hall of Fame Museum. Interestingly, the museum in Mississippi is one of only two Grammy museums. Along with the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, music fans from all over the world can visit this incredible display of talent that has helped to shape our cultural history.
One of The Southland Music Line’s most popular features has been its Mississippi Blues Trail Series. In the past few years, we have photographed nearly 70 markers and written nearly 30 articles. Presently, we are in the process of developing more articles. On our Delta trip, we were able to photograph numerous markers. We are very proud of this series of articles and appreciate those who have taken the time to read them. One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the legendary Club Ebony in Indianola, Mississippi. We were invited into the famous blues venue, recently spotlighted in the New York Times article “Club Ebony, a Historic Blues Venue Tied to B.B. King, Rises Again”. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting with Robert Terrell, the B.B. King Museum’s deputy director and blues musician Terry “Harmonica” Bean at this historic location.
Clay Mills (singer-songwriter, educator, and a 2022 Mississippi Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductee) has written such #1 hits as “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About it” by Darius Rucker
The Southland Music Line wants to thank Mississippi Songwriters Alliance, Delta Music Arts Alliance, Tricia Walker (music ambassador for the City of Cleveland, MS), The Grammy Museum, and the good folks at The Cotton House Hotel, who provided us with very nice accommodations while staying in Cleveland, Mississippi.
As fall approaches, we are now looking forward to The Mississippi Songwriters Festival in Ocean Springs and Gautier, Mississippi. The event begins on Thursday, September 21, and will continue through Sunday, September 24. We invite everyone to join us at this exciting musical event.
Bridgette Tatum (singer-songwriter) among her many achievements, she co-wrote Jason Aldean’s #1 hit “She’s Country”
Tricia Walker (singer-songwriter, educator, and music ambassador for the City of Cleveland, MS)
Additional Editing by Deborah Chatham
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