MVSU Set to hold the 9th Annual B.B. King Day Symposium

August 28, 2023

Each year, Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) takes a musical trip that connects the past to the present during its B.B. King Day Symposium at MVSU in honor of the legendary blues musician.

On Thursday, September 7, 2023, the symposium will celebrate its ninth year and highlight the "Origins of the Blues" in the R.W. Harrison Sports Complex. The B.B. King Recording Studio, The B.B. King Museum, and Delta Interpretive Center sponsor the symposium. 

"We are excited to host this amazing event," said Margaret Clark, Event Coordinator. This symposium gets bigger and better each year. We are looking forward to all the presentations, discussions, art exhibit, and the fellowship that makes the event stand out,' she added. 

The topics set to be presented during the symposium will be a synopsis of the regional origins of the blues. Mississippi is known as the birthplace of the Blues, but blues music was a developing art form throughout the South.

Dr. Alphonso Sanders, Symposium Founder, explained that the blues is a music of the Black American culture and how its lyrics describe pain, heartache, joy and sorrow, and the good times and bad times.

"The Story of the Blues tells the woes of love and happiness between a man and a woman, the connection between a mother and a child, the loneliness of a fatherless home, and the hardship of the workday from sunup to sundown. Its sound evokes a deep feeling within the soul and a spiritual awakening of the mind," Dr. Sanders explained.

"Some say they like the blues, but I think they just like the fame 'cause every time I try to give away my blues, nobody wants to share my pain," added Dr. Sanders.

 The symposium will take a journey through the South, making stops along the way and giving the audience a glimpse into the development of blues from the point of view of various influential areas.

The program moderator will be Art Turk Burton, who has been a conga and bongo drum jazz artist for over 40 years and who also received a full scholarship for jazz percussion to attend Governors State University and played in the GSU Jazz Band under Dr. Warrick Carter, where he received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in African American Studies.

Burton, a Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (A.A.C.M.) member since 1973, has shared musical experiences with Dizzy Gillespie and many other musical greats.

Burton will lead a discussion that begins with the Origins of Louisiana Blues featuring Rayful Neal, Jr.; the Origins of Arkansas Blues with Christopher Parker; the Origins of Georgia Blues with Frankie Robinson, Jr.; the Origins of Alabama Blues with Jock Webb, followed by a Blues performance by Terry "Harmonica" Bean.

Bean is a lifelong resident of Pontotoc, Ms., and first heard downhome blues at home. His father, Eddie Bean, a native of Bruce, Ms., sang and played blues guitar. Bean got serious about the blues in 1988 after visiting the Delta Blues Festival in Greenville. Every weekend for three years, Bean traveled to Greenville to play harmonica with James "T-Model" Ford and Asie Payton at various juke joints. He also played across the Delta with artists, including Lonnie Pitchford.

The afternoon session will begin with a discussion on the Origins of Tennessee Blues with Clark White and Henry Perry, Jr.; the final discussion will be on the Origins of Mississippi Blues with Diane Williams.