Grammy Museum opens in Mississippi Delta

JACKSON, Miss. - The second and only official Grammy Museum outside of Los Angeles opens Saturday in the Mississippi Delta, cradle of the blues.

See Full Article

Organizers chose Cleveland, Mississippi - two hours north of the state capitol Jackson - for the nearly $20 million project and promise one of the most advanced museums in the country. It's a smaller but updated version of its sister museum in California and employs high-definition touchscreens and interactive technology to chronicle American music history from before the first Grammy Awards in 1959 to the present.

The bedrock of that history is the Mississippi Delta, said Bob Santelli, executive director of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. The rhythmic guitar and soulful ballads of bluesmen like Robert Johnson and B.B. King travelled up the Mississippi and across the country, influencing nearly every style of American popular music including, jazz, hip-hop and rock 'n roll. The state also claims the most Grammy winners per capita in the world.

"Isn't that wild?" Santelli said. "You take the state of Mississippi out of American music history and you have a very large gap to fill."

The blues mesmerized musicians ranging from Tupelo native Elvis Presley to The Beatles and more in generations since, said Patricia Walker, songwriter and head of Delta State University's music department. The original bluesmen - mostly African-American men living in the Jim Crow era of discrimination in the South - lived off the land and eased their hardships through music.

"Everybody at one time or another has had the blues," Walker said. "The musicians that came out of here had to dig deep in the soil to make a living, and they dug deep to capture those feelings in their music."

Officials designed the museum - the most upscale building to come to the region - with the Delta's history in mind. Corrugated metal on the building's exterior is a nod to the tin metal sharecropper shacks many blues musicians grew up in. The entrance looks like a big front porch, a common feature of many Delta homes.

Cleveland Chamber of Commerce Director Judson Thigpen estimates the museum could bring in about $20 million annually as a tourist draw to the entire region.

The museum was a collaborative effort to spotlight the Delta's music legacy, said Allen Hammons who helped establish the B.B. King Museum in Indianola, Mississippi as well as a Blues Trail along a highway in the state. In 2011 Hammons joined Walker and others to form the Cleveland Music Foundation, a non-profit foundation that built and operates the museum.

Once the foundation got permission from The Recording Academy to use the official Grammy brand, it started fundraising. In less than five years the City of Cleveland, Bolivar County and the state together put up more than $12 million for the project, with the rest coming from private donors, Hammons said.

The museum features a diverse collection including the acoustic guitar Presley played during his landmark '50's Sun Records Sessions to the bright, multicolored feather costume Cee Lo Green wore at the 2011 Grammy Awards.

Pop singer Ne-Yo teaches dance moves from a life-sized screen to over a multicolored dance floor that lights up like the one from Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." One booth lets visitors hear what Beyonce would have sounded like on a grammaphone.

Visitors can record and produce a song with Grammy Award-winning bluesman Keb' Mo' and trace how Mississippians like Ike Turner - considered the father of rock'n'roll - influenced musicians through the ages along a 12-person, interactive touchscreen table with a timeline that looks like the Mississippi River.

Santelli said kids learn more with interactive technology that connects them with music history.

"The worst thing you want to do in a museum is put the culture and music and excitement behind glass," he said.

Walker hopes the museum, next door to Delta State's campus, inspires her students.

Jessica Faith, a piano player and vocalist at Delta State, is scheduled to play at the museum's Beatles Symposium in April. The band is the focus of the first travelling exhibit to come to the museum.

She said it was "just so cool" to have the museum nearby.

"The younger generation isn't very aware of the great legacy in their backyard," she said. "It's empowering for them to see that B.B. King was born here and grew up here and had such success. There's something in the water here, in the dirt. It's very deep. It's very real."



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Jerry Lewis' MDA telethons were full of emotion, star appearances

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Jerry Lewis, whose career as producer-director-writer and movie star peaked in the 1960s, may be best remembered by younger generations for the muscular dystrophy telethons he conducted every Labour Day weekend. While he had done earlier fundraising specials, Lewis appeared in his first Labor Day telethon, broadcast on a single New York station, in 1966. Source
  • Jerry Lewis, comedian and telethon host, dies at 91

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    LOS ANGELES — Jerry Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. Source
  • How Elvis Presley came off the rails

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Before he became a pop punchline, he was a King. His empire — the entirety of the rock ‘n’ roll nation. But America eats it heroes and on Aug. 16, 1977, Elvis Presley, 42, became the latest addition to that tragic roster. Source
  • Comedy legend Jerry Lewis dead at 91

    Entertainment CBC News
    Jerry Lewis, the rubber-faced comedian and director whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died. He was 91. Publicist Candi Cazau says Lewis passed away of natural causes on Sunday morning. He was in Las Vegas with his family by his side. Source
  • Comedy legend Jerry Lewis dies at 91

    Entertainment CBC News
    Jerry Lewis, the rubber-faced comedian and director whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died. He was 91. Publicist Candi Cazau says Lewis passed away of natural causes on Sunday morning. He was in Las Vegas with his family by his side. Source
  • Jerry Lewis, comedian , telethon host, dies at 91: publicist

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Jerry Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. Source
  • Jerry Lewis, comedian, telethon host, dies at 91

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Jerry Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. Source
  • Rocker Tommy Lee joins 'mile high club' while on vacation

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    RADAR ONLINE First posted: Sunday, August 20, 2017 12:02 PM EDT | Updated: Sunday, August 20, 2017 12:09 PM EDT Source
  • Princes William and Harry rumoured to make cameo in next chapter of Star Wars

    Entertainment CTV News
    Star Wars’ Stormtroopers could be in for the royal treatment in the latest installment of the sci-fi saga, as Princes William and Harry might be making a secret cameo appearance in the film. In an interview with BBC Radio 4, Star Wars: The Last Jedi star John Boyega dropped a few hints about the royals’ rumoured appearance. Source
  • Madonna shares rare family picture on her birthday

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Madonna celebrated turning 59 with a big party with her six kids joining in the fun. The Queen Of Pop shared a cute image via Instagram of her children on Friday after her big bash. The original Material Girl posted the family shot with sons Rocco and David along with daughters Mercy, Lourdes, plus Stella and Esther also. Source