Mississippi is the birthplace of American music and soon-to-be home to the official Grammy Museum® Mississippi. The 27,000 square foot facility is being built on the Delta State University campus in Cleveland, Miss. It is scheduled to open early 2016, coinciding with the Grammy Awards held annually in February.
The location of the museum might surprise some, but it celebrates the magnolia state’s impact on modern music, which includes artists across genres from Elvis Presley and B.B. King to the Grammy-winning opera singer, Leontyne Price. “It is a Grammy Museum; it’s not a blues museum; it’s not a rock ‘n’ roll museum; it’s not a soul museum; it is Grammys, so that encompasses all different aspects. We want to show people how genres that were born in the state have affected other genres after,” says Jane Marie Dawkins, education and public programs manager of Grammy Museum Mississippi.
The museum is said to be the most technologically advanced music museum in the world. From the moment guests walk through the door, they will be immersed in a Grammy experience featuring a music hallway that leads to galleries highlighting films, interactive exhibits and artifacts of American music’s legacy and icons. There will also be temporary exhibits like those at the Grammy Museum® LA centered on music legends like Stevie Ray Vaughn, which is planned for the opening. The museum is bringing global music to the Mississippi Delta while also educating people about its own unique history; it does not just cover Mississippi’s music legacy, but that of recorded music in general.
Besides exhibits, the museum will bring in entertainment to the area and provide special education programs. Dawkins says her job is to work with schools all over Mississippi and any school in the region that can make it over there. The museum will provide lesson plans for teachers that can be used in the classroom before or after they bring groups in for a tour. According to Dawkins, they are working on lesson plans incorporating civil rights movements, Mississippi history, U.S. history, Latin American heritage, black history and even math, which all have and continue to play a big role in music. Workshops will also play a key part to the museum’s education experience.
Being on the Delta State campus, the museum hopes to bring in Delta State students for education opportunities for them to learn, but also to work with younger students through summer camps and after school programs. Even though the museum is not yet physically open they already presented an education program at the Delta Music Institute in June with Roseanne Cash. Also in June, an interview with The Band Perry was recorded for their archives, and in August musicians from the band Legends did an education program with over 600 children and gave a performance recorded for their archives. “I think this gives opportunities to students like myself who are trying to make it in this industry and this will really help,” says Amber Foster, a Delta Music Institute student.
Mississippi is not the only one benefitting from this museums arrival. The nearest Recording Academy chapter is Memphis and its regions covers West Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. Until recently, the only Grammy Museum was in Los Angeles, which opened in 2008. Now its sister museum in Mississippi is bringing a Grammy component to this neck of the woods. “It’s another music themed attraction that pays tribute to the great music heritage here while also creating opportunities for young people. The more things like that there are in this part of the country, the better it is for everybody,” says Jon Hornyak, senior executive director of the Recording Academy Memphis Chapter.
And The Grammys Go To...
The country's second-ever Grammy Museum finds a home in Cleveland, Mississippi
Story by Mary Eckersley