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

  • Tale about the doomed great auk wins $30,000 children's book prize

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO - A tale about a resourceful bird facing great adversity has won the $30,000 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award. Jan Thornhill's book "The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk" won for its story about the doomed creature, which became extinct in 1844. Source
  • David Cassidy, former Partridge Family teen actor, dead at 67

    Entertainment CBC News
    David Cassidy, the teen and pre-teen idol who starred in the 1970s sitcom The Partridge Family and sold millions of records as the musical group's lead singer, died Tuesday at age 67. Cassidy, who announced earlier this year that he had been diagnosed with dementia, died surrounded by his family, a family statement released by publicist JoAnn Geffen said. Source
  • David Cassidy, 'Partridge Family' star and '70s teen idol, dies at 67

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- David Cassidy, the teen and pre-teen idol who starred in the 1970s sitcom "The Partridge Family" and sold millions of records as the musical group's lead singer, died Tuesday at age 67. Source
  • Chrissy Teigen and John Legend expecting second child

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Chrissy Teigen and John Legend are expanding their family. The model and the musician used social media Tuesday to announce they're expecting their second child together. Teigen posted a video on Instagram that shows the couple's daughter, Luna, with her hands on her mother's stomach. Source
  • Weinstein paid $1M to silence Italian model who accused him of groping: report

    Entertainment CBC News
    Harvey Weinstein paid $1 million US to silence an Italian model who accused him of groping her in 2015 after prosecutors decided not to charge him, and in the 1990s, his brother paid other accusers from his personal bank account, a magazine reported Tuesday. Source
  • Pixar co-founder John Lasseter steps down over 'missteps' with employees

    Entertainment CBC News
    Pixar co-founder and Walt Disney Animation chief John Lasseter is taking a six-month leave of absence citing "missteps" with employees. In a vaguely worded memo obtained by The Associated Press Tuesday, Lasseter says he knows he has made some employees feel disrespected and uncomfortable. Source
  • Pixar co-founder John Lasseter takes leave over 'missteps' with employees

    Entertainment CBC News
    Pixar co-founder and Walt Disney Animation chief John Lasseter is taking a six-month leave of absence citing "missteps" with employees. In a vaguely worded memo obtained by The Associated Press Tuesday, Lasseter says he knows he has made some employees feel disrespected and uncomfortable. Source
  • Disney Animation, Pixar chief John Lasseter taking leave

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Just days before Pixar's "Coco" is set to hit theatres, Pixar co-founder and Walt Disney Animation chief John Lasseter announced he is taking a six-month leave of absence citing "missteps" with employees. Source
  • People with facial differences see their stories reflected in Wonder

    Entertainment CBC News
    When Vanessa Wiens was just 12 years old, she was out walking her dog and someone yelled, "Hey you, ugly ... you should go kill yourself." She did contemplate suicide, being the target of cruel comments in her neighbourhood at least four times a week when she was growing up. Source
  • 'He still feels like Michael from Vancouver:' Junos tap 'guy next door' Bublé as 2018 host

    Entertainment CBC News
    After the curtain fell on the 2016 Juno Awards, producers behind the Canadian music celebration received an effusive call from a devoted fan praising the awards telecast: Michael Bublé. "He said: 'I would love to host again. Source