BLUES MUSICIAN TO TAKE PART IN
'BEAUTIFUL BOUQUET OF MISSISSIPPI MUSIC'
By Christopher Mapp
- Music in Mississippi is and always has been a melange of styles,
influenced by the state's myriad ethnic groups. And perhaps no one
represents that musical gumbo better than celebrated blues musician
A native of
McComb who now resides in Hattiesburg, Jackson owns a unique sound
cultivated from his diverse musical background. With inimitable
flair, Jackson serves as an ambassador for the blues, embodying
the confluence of musical styles that has made the art form one
of the state's most recognizable exports.
That is why
Dr. Jay Dean, University of Southern Mississippi professor and music
director of orchestra, approached Jackson about writing an original
blues-influenced piece for the May 1 concert called "Mississippi,
The Birthplace of America's Music."
him to write something that reflected his feelings about living
in America," Dean said. The result was his original composition,
"American, Proud and Strong."
has done several shows with the symphony in the past," Dean
said. "I ask him to play again and again because his music
reflects popular music from this region better than any artist I
recorded with legendary blues man B.B. King on the Grammy-award
winning "Blues Summit" album, is a composer and producer
as well as a performer. In addition to his work for the Discovery
Channel, HBO, VH1, BBC (England), City TV (Canada), Jackson has
worked with renowned artists Johnnie Taylor, Katie Webster and Pulitzer
Prize winner Wynton Marsalis.
patriotic composition fuses blues and country with an orchestral
arrangement. The lyrics, he said, are particularly meaningful in
light of recent world events.
is about thanking God that you're an American," Jackson said.
"It's about being proud to be an American and standing up for
America and being willing to serve as an American
your community, your school, church, home and your state."
playing the guitar at an early age, learning from his maternal grandparents.
"I come from this from a roots standpoint," he said. "My
grandfather was of Irish decent, so there was more of a gospel and
country element there. My grandmother - she's 83 and she still writes
music. My great-great grandfather was a fiddle player."
that Mississippi has influenced modern music so much because it
is a "hotbed of different ethnicities," bringing together
the classical compositions of Europe and the unconventional intonations
and spiritual rhythms of Africa.
styles - blues and classical - was easy when writing the composition,
Jackson said. Getting classically trained musicians to accept this
"different approach" was only slightly more challenging,
in European music is very strict, very on time," he said. "But
blues has a gut feeling, a beat that's a little more laid back.
You push the tempo some here and there; it's not quite as staccato.
I gave the string players an example of this different approach,
then it was a wonderful sound."
has taken him around the world to such venues as the Monterey Jazz
Festival, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Chicago Blues
Festival, Jubilee Jam, Saint Louis Blues Festival and the Delta
Blues Festival. He also toured Europe with Z.Z. Hill.
to the symphony, Jackson has been featured with the Mississippi
Symphony Orchestra at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson. He also recorded
live for the Library of Congress' "Local Legacy Series,"
on display in the Library's "Folk Life Archives."
BancorpSouth, the May 1 event at Reed Green Coliseum will feature
gospel, blues, jazz and patriotic music. It will also feature a
1,000-voice chorus called the Mississippi Mass Choir. Jackson, praising
the choir and the Southern Miss Symphony in particular, said that
the show at Reed Green Coliseum should be "one-of-a-kind."
who have not seen the choir, it's going to be a blessing. And the
orchestra is just wonderful," he said. "It's going to
be a bouquet of beautiful Mississippi music, with blues, and gospel,
orchestra, rock elements, soul, and it's going to be visually exciting
as well - a celebration no one should miss."
PHOTOGRAPHER TO LEAD WORKSHOP, PRESENTATION MARCH 10
-- 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.
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
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
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."
participants do not need to bring their photographic equipment unless
they need an explanation about some aspect of their equipment.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.