MSMS bringing blues tour, tunes to Vicksburg

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Southern Cultural Heritage Center will host an Oct. 2 performance by students of the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science.

If you go

The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Stage Band and Choir will perform at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center at 6 p.m. Oct. 2. Admission is free. For information, call 601-631-2997 or e-mail.

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The school’s first-ever performance at the SCHC is part of the second Sights and Sounds tour that MSMS performing arts director Dawn Barham and historical content director Julie Heintz created to enrich their students’ understanding of Mississippi history.

“I wanted the students to understand the history of the musical artists in Mississippi and their impact on the world,” Barham said. “I wanted them to also understand the artists’ response to all the things written in the history books such as the Civil Rights Movement.”

Vicksburg was chosen, Barham said, because of its connection to blues artists such as Willie Dixon and The Red Tops, and the SCHC was chosen because of its part in the 2000 movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” which featured a character based on the blues artist Tommy Johnson, a Crystal Springs native.

“This is such a great thing,” said SCHC Executive Director Annette Kirklin. “This goes along well with what we’re doing in October,” including the Classics in the Courtyard lunchtime series and the City of Vicksburg’s proclamation of October as Southern Cultural Heritage Center Month.

The Oct. 2 program will begin with traditional gospel music, and transition to blues and jazz tunes such as Dixon’s “My Babe.” It will feature a video presentation with photos and clips of significant people and places during the 1960s Civil Rights Era. 

The performance is a collaboration of the MSMS band and choir and members of Heintz’s “’60s — Decade of Change” class. It is a culmination of the students’ study of Mississippi’s role in civil rights changes and the development of American music.

The show in Vicksburg will serve as a quick homecoming for MSMS junior Alezandra Tolliver, a city native who is on the roster to perform. Alezandra, 16, is the daughter of Audrey Tolliver.

Vicksburg is the second in the school’s three-city tour that also features Brookhaven and Hattiesburg, but the group will make five other stops along the Mississippi Blues Trail which, when completed, will have 120 markers. Two are in Vicksburg — one for Dixon and one for the Red Tops.

They will begin their three-day tour with a stop in New Orleans, then head to McComb, Brookhaven, Crystal Springs, Hazelhurst and Port Gibson before coming to Vicksburg. The tour will end Oct. 3 in Hattiesburg.

MSMS is a public, residential, coeducational high school located on the campus of Mississippi University for Women in Columbus. It is for academically talented juniors and seniors.


Contact Manivanh Chanprasith at