Hattiesburg is getting in on Mississippi Musicians Day, an official day of artistic celebration that uses seminars and hands-on experiences to focus on increasing awareness of Mississippi’s musical heritage and its rightful place as the birthplace of America’s music.
The Hub City will host the event – which will include a full day’s lineup of music, arts, discussion and workshops, among other activities – from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. March 7 at the Hattiesburg Community Arts Center. The center, which is located in the former Hattiesburg American building at 825 North Main Street in downtown, will feature an event finale at 7 p.m. that night.
“Mississippi, by both history and its own marketing, is the birthplace of America’s music,” Mayor Toby Barker said during a recent news conference at the arts center. “Its contributions to blues, gospel, rock and roll, country and other genres are well-documented. This is indeed fitting, because Hattiesburg is an integral part of our state’s musical story.
“It was only a few blocks from here, at the corner of Pine Street and Mobile Street at the old Hotel Hattiesburg, where Blind Roosevelt Graves joined up with his brother and a few other musicians to record the first sound that was recorded and referred to as rock and roll. We know of the many musicians that have come through here and cultivated their stylings and their talents within our city limits, and so we are glad to take our place as a premier destination for music in the state of Mississippi by holding this year’s celebration of Mississippi Musicians Day.”
The day will begin at 10 a.m. at Fika, the Swedish café on Buschman Street, with woodwind playing. At 11 a.m. the event will move to The Jook at the Hattiesburg Community Arts Center for a harmonica workshop, followed by a noon percussion woodshop at The Jook.
William Carey Jazz will take over The Jook at 1 p.m. All events at the Jook also feature a petting zoo, food trucks, vendors and music.
A record listening party will be held at 2 p.m. in the reception/gallery room of the arts center, followed by a DIY production at 3 p.m. A discussion panel titled “Why is Mississippi the birthplace of music?” will begin at 4 p.m. in the reception/gallery room, with a songwriters’ social an hour and a half later at 5:30 p.m.
Live music with Vasti Jackson, John Wooten, the Yazoo City Blues Trio, Charayana Johnson and the Musicians Day House Band will begin at 7 p.m. in the paper warehouse of the building, and open mic will start at 9 p.m.
All events and activities before 7 p.m. are free to the general public, but tickets to the final performance are $20 and can be purchased at https://bit.ly/37qVvFx. Students with a school ID can receive a free ticket at the door.
“You don’t have to be a professional, amateur – or, in my case, a mediocre – musician to come to Musicians Day,” Barker said. “If you love music and creating art, you want to be downtown on Saturday, March 7.”
In March 2015, during a conference at the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson, former Gov. Phil Bryant proclaimed the third Tuesday of March as an annual Mississippi Musicians Day.
“Mississippi has a long history of music,” said Jay Dean, acting director of the School of Music at the University of Southern Mississippi. “I don’t care what genre you’re talking about; it exists in this state and it’s performed all over the state, whether it’s classical, rock and roll or jazz.
“I’m particularly happy that this event has finally come to Hattiesburg. Hattiesburg is a music town – we have two universities here that have been awarding music degrees to professional musicians and educators for over 100 years. Hattiesburg is the arts hub, and music is a part of that, and we’ve been doing that longer than most universities have in this state.”
For more information on the event, visit www.hattiesburgms.com/msmusicday.