ITTA BENA, Miss. — Do you know the mixed ethnicity of Charlie Patton, who is called the “Father of Delta blues?” Do you know much about Jimi Hendrix’s Cherokee heritage? The 4th Annual B.B. King Day at MVSU Symposium, slated for Thursday, Sept. 6, will explore how the making of American music, like the making of America itself, is filled with legends of mixed races.
Hosted by the Mississippi Valley State University B.B. King Recording Studio, in partnership with the B.B. King Museum, the symposium will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in MVSU’s Carver A. Randle Auditorium.
The mission of the B.B. King Day at MVSU Symposium is to preserve the legacy of B.B. King, a true Mississippi Delta treasure, through a unique annual blues education experience by gathering influential musicians, writers, visual artists, and ethnographers to discuss the evolution of the blues and its importance to American music history.
This year’s theme, “Suffering Songs: The Blues Identity of Native and African American People and Their Struggles” will offer history, insightful views, and thoughtful opinions on the inter-relations of cultures in relation to the making of America’s music, the blues. The panels will consist of historians, professional musicians, educators, and community voices.
Bluesman Bill “Howl-n-Madd” Perry, an inter-racial descendant of the Choctaws, will appear on panels with Choctaw Native Dan “Swift Eagle” Isaac to reflect on musical contributions of the blues. The symposium will also give discussion to many other unique bi-racial histories related to the making of the blues and American music.
During the symposium, there will be a showcase of music featuring B.B.’s Lucille, Lil’ Ray Neal and performances by The Mystic Winds of the Mississippi Band of Choctaws. There will also be art exhibits by Graylon “G.A. Free” Freeman, Kim Rushing, Dorothy Vaughn, Ron Minks, Spence Townsend, Sodam Lee, Dr. Alphonso Sanders, Dr. John Zheng, Dawn Whitfield, and Littrell Lane. A rare B.B. King Portrait by Alex Bostic will also be featured.
The evening will conclude at historic Club Ebony with the Symposium’s Great Blues Showcase, starting at 7 p.m. with special guest: Walter Riley King, Teeny Tucker, Jesse Robinson, Lil’ Ray Neal, Larry Neal, Clyde Roulette, Butch Mudbone, Jimmi Mayes, Bill “Howl-n-Madd” Perry, Deacon Bluz, Vickie Baker, and others.
The symposium will also include pre-day lectures on Wednesday, Sept. 5th that will be highlighted by Sondra Lee-Bell, arts industry director at the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC), at 11 a.m. in MVSU’s Business Auditorium. Other lecturers will include Harold Comby of Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians at 10 a.m. in MVSU’s Criminal Justice Department and Cheryl Thornhill, executive director of the Museum of the Mississippi Delta at 9 a.m. in MVSU’s Social Science Department.
For questions or more information about the B.B. King Day at MVSU Symposium, contact MVSU’s Department of Fine Arts at (662) 254-3482.