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Released April 19, 2004


By Angie Cutrer

HATTIESBURG - There's going to be a whole lot of shaking going on May 1 in Reed Green Coliseum when the "Mississippi, The Birthplace of America's Music" concert appears on The University of Southern Mississippi's Hattiesburg campus.

Sponsored by BancorpSouth, the event will feature gospel, blues, jazz and patriotic music. "This concert is designed to make Mississippians very proud of their state," said Dr. Jay Dean, Southern Miss professor and music director of orchestra.

The Southern Miss Symphony Orchestra, celebrating its 82nd season this year, produces a concert that will feature a spectacular cast, plus a 1,000-voice chorus and full symphony orchestra. The event will spotlight musicians honoring Mississippi's artistic contribution, from blues to grand opera to acting greats.

"Those of us in Mississippi sometimes don't realize what a great state of composers, writers, musicians and actors we possess," Dean said. "Mississippi has done a great deal in providing artists, and this concert is a celebration of our musical heritage. It's going to be the biggest single celebration of Mississippi music in the history of the state."

Featured performers include Mississippi guitarist Vasti Jackson, the McComb native known for his vocals, songwriting, producing and arranging who has recorded with the blues legend B. B. King on King's Grammy Award-winning "Blues Summit" release.

Also performing will be the 1,000-voice Mississippi Mass Choir, world-famous for its gospel music that includes high school and college students from around the state. Participating high schools from the Hattiesburg area include Hattiesburg, West Jones, Lumberton, Poplarville, North Forrest, Forrest County AHS, Gulfport, Biloxi, Stone County, Pascagoula, Purvis and Moss Point, and Belhaven and William Carey College.

Participating high schools from across the state include the following: Jim Hill, Callaway, Vicksburg, Forest, Jackson Academy, Natchez, Piney Woods, Lanier, Yazoo County, Yazoo City, Brookhaven, Northwest Rankin, Brandon, Pass Christian, Simpson Academy, APAC and Canton.Also appearing will be Mickey Davis, the national fiddling champion from Natchez; 50 miniature "Elvis" impersonators from La Studio Dance Academy; the Southern Miss Symphony Orchestra; the Southern Miss, William Carey and Belhaven choirs; and the Hattiesburg Choral Union.

Mississippi native Gary Grubbs will emcee the event. Grubbs is a longtime writer and actor whose most recent accomplishment has been starring in his own play, the well-received "As the Crow Flies," at the New Stage Theatre in Jackson to sold-out crowds. Grubbs has also appeared in the films "JFK," "Silkwood," "Honkytonk Man," "X-Files: The Movie," and "The Astronaut's Wife." On television, he portrayed lawyers in "The Burning Bed" and "Fatal Vision," and lately he guest starred on "Will and Grace," "The X-Files," "Jag," "Touched by an Angel," and "ER."

The 7:30 p.m. concert includes a patriotic finale comprising all soloists and choruses. "This show will have Mississippians standing on their feet," Dean promised.

Call 266-5418 for more information or visit for online ticket purchases.


OCEAN SPRINGS -- Award-winning wildlife photographer Tom Ulrich will lead two photographic events at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory on Wednesday, March 10.

He will present a nature photography workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and then a talk and slide show called "Wildlife Images 2003" at 7 p.m., both at The University of Southern Mississippi GCRL.

Admission to the evening event is free and will be held in the Caylor Auditorium at GCRL. The veteran photographer will feature photos from his 2003 photographic safaris abroad and in North America. He will answer questions and sign his books during the reception following his slide show.

The registration fee for the all-day workshop is $50 per person, payable to GCRL. Registration includes a continental breakfast, light lunch and snacks. Participation is limited to 20. Though the workshop is geared toward beginners, Ulrich tailors the experience to meet needs for all degrees of skill.

"The beginners will definitely benefit from the workshop, but I always help the more advanced get something out of it also," Ulrich said. "I lead many photo trips and always find a wide range of levels."

Ulrich said participants do not need to bring their photographic equipment unless they need an explanation about some aspect of their equipment.

Topics include a brief review of the principles of photography, relationships between shutter and aperture settings, fundamental elements of composition, use and timing of fill-in flash, digital versus film photography, techniques of close-up photography, and a brief discussion of slide etiquette, the photography business and marketing.

Ulrich grew up in South Chicago, graduated with a degree in biology from Southern Illinois University and taught for four years before launching his career as a freelance photographer. He has supported himself with nature photography for the past 29 years.

His library of more than 300,000 transparencies includes birds and mammals from all over the world. His photographs have been featured in publications such as National Wildlife, Audubon, National Geographic, Montana Outdoors and Life.

He has published six nature books, including Mammals of the Rockies, Birds of the Northern Rockies, Once Upon a Frame and his 2002 release, Photo Pantanal. Dr. William E. Hawkins, GCRL executive director, said Ulrich brings the scientific and artistic worlds together.

"Tom earns his living photographing wildlife all over the world," Hawkins sad. "He is an outstanding observer and a biologist. His approach to photography is to capture his subjects exhibiting their natural behavior."

The GCRL is home to the university's Department of Coastal Sciences, the Center for Fisheries Research and Development, and the Gulf Coast Geospatial Center. The J.L. Scott Marine Education Center and Aquarium is also a unit of the laboratory. The GCRL is part of the Southern Miss College of Science and Technology. For more information, call the laboratory at (228) 872-4200.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM