Presenters 2016


Keynote Speaker

Dr. William R. Ferris,  a widely recognized leader in Southern studies, African American music, and folklore, is the Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the senior associate director of UNC’s Center for the Study
of the American South. The former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ferris has conducted thousands of interviews with musicians ranging from the famous (B.B. King) to the unrecognized (Parchman Penitentiary inmates working in the elds). He has written or edited 10 books and created 15 documentary films. He co-edited the massive Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (UNC Press, 1989), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His other books include: Mule Trader: Ray Lum’s Tales of Horses, Mules and Men (1992), Local Color (1982, 1992), Images of the South: Visits with Eudora Welty and Walker Evans (1978), Mississippi Black Folklore: A Research Bibliography and Discography (1971) and Blues from the Delta (1970, 1978, 1988). His book Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues (2009) was published by the University of North Carolina Press and has now been translated into French. His most recent book, The Storied South: Voices of the Writers and Artists, was published by the UNC Press in August last year. Bill Ferris’ films include Mississippi Blues (1983), which was featured at the Cannes Film Festival. A native of Vicksburg, MS, Ferris was the founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. A graduate of Davidson College, he received a Ph.D. in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. 


Guests Artists

Dom Flemons is the “American Songster,” pulling from traditions of old-time folk music to create new sounds. Having performed music professionally since 2005, he has played live for over one million people just within the past three years. As part of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, which he co-founded with Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson, he has played at a variety of festivals spanning from the Newport Folk Festival to Bonnaroo, in addition to renowned venues such as the Grand Ole Opry. A multi-instrumentalist, Dom plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, fe, bones, bass drum, snare drum and quills, in addition to singing. He says that he incorporates his background in percussion to his banjo playing. Dom’s banjo repertoire includes not only clawhammer but also tenor and three-finger styles of playing. He first picked up the instrument when he borrowed a five-string banjo from a friend who had removed the instrument’s fifth string. As a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an African- American string band, Dom was able to explore his interest in bringing traditional music to new audiences. The band won a GRAMMY for its 2011 album Genuine Negro Jig and was nominated for its most recent album, Leaving Eden, in 2012. 

In July 2014, Dom released his third solo record with Music Maker Relief Foundation, and his first since leaving the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Prospect Hill finds Flemons digging deeply into ragtime, Piedmont blues, spirituals, southern folk music, string band music, jug band music, fe and drum music, and ballad idioms with showmanship and humor, reinterpreting the music to suit 21st century audiences. He was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross and his new album has received praise from The Boston Globe, Paste Magazine, Living Blues Magazine, and more. 

James "Super Chikan" Jonson is a Blues Music Award winning musician, artist and guitar maker based in Clarksdale, MS. In 1997 “Super Chikan” released his debut album, Blues Come Home to Roost. Chikadelic was awarded the 2010 Blues Music Award for Traditional Blues Album. Welcome To Sunny Bluesville, Super Chikan’s latest CD, was recorded at XM / Sirius Satellite Radio’s state-of-the-art performance studio in Washington, DC. It features both Chikan’s solo and with his band, The Fighting Cocks. “Super Chikan” has received the MS Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. Bobby Rush’s latest two albums, 2014’s GRAMMY nominated funk-infused Decisions and  2013’s  GRAMMY  nominated and Blues Music Award winning album Down in Louisiana is the work of a funky re-breathing legend.

At 80, GRAMMY nominated and Blues Music Award winning BOBBY RUSH still has an energy level that ts his name. He’s a proli c songwriter and one of the most vital live performers in the blues, able to execute daredevil splits on stage while singing and playing harmonica and guitar. Those talents have earned him multiple Blues Music Awards including Soul Blues Album of the Year, Acoustic Album of the Year, and, almost perennially, Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year. After more than sixty years of recording and touring, Rush is still doing over 200 shows a year from Mississippi to Japan to California, and headlining major festivals and concerts for upwards of 20,000 people a night. 


Scott Barretta is an instructor of sociology at the University of Mississippi, where his courses include Anthropology of Blues Culture. He is a writer and researcher for the Mississippi Blues Trail, the host of the Highway 61 radio program on Mississippi Public Broadcasting, and has a weekly music column in the Clarion Ledger. He is the former editor of Living Blues, published by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. He has also written for magazines including Oxford American, MOJO, and SingOut!, and was on the team that created the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center. Barretta is a coauthor of a recent 18-lesson blues curriculum published by the Mississippi Arts Commission, the editor of the book Conscience of the Revival: The Writings of Israel ”Izzy” Young, and coauthor of the book Mississippi: State of Blues. He is currently working on a boxed set of the field recordings of Dr. William Ferris. Barretta will be teaching Sociology of the Blues for the DSU Blues Studies Program. 

Dr. Barry T. Bilderback is an Associate Professor of Music History and Ethnomusicology with the Lionel Hampton School of Music, University of Idaho. Offering a Ghanaian-based study abroad course, his primary research area is Ghanaian music and culture. He has published articles in “Journal of Pan-African Studies,” “Making Connections: The Journal of Interdisciplinary Approaches to Cultural Diversity,” “Percussive Notes,” “Percussion Magazine,” and the “Journal of International Educator.” 

Arthur Calderon is an associate at Griffith & Carr, where he focuses on representing public sector clients, domestic and international business law, and intellectual property law. In addition to his practice, Arthur puts his interest in technology to use by keeping clients up-to-date with the latest issues involving digital data management, e-discovery, and social media. He also uses his prior nonprofit and managerial experiences to help clients launch new businesses, while avoiding common legal pitfalls. 

Michael Carr is a partner at Griffith & Carr in Cleveland, MS, where he specializes in criminal law, public sector defense, and professional liability. He has received several accolades for his public service work, including 2014 Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year as recognized by the Mississippi Bar Association. Michael is heavily involved in several professional organizations, including the Bolivar County Bar Association, and several committees within the Young Lawyers Division. 

As Deputy Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles, Rita George oversees all of the daily operations of the museum and its staff of 35. Since assuming her position, George has led new business efforts and has managed the strategic planning and curatorial content development for over 50 exhibits and special off-site projects, including GRAMMY Museum Mississippi. In addition to overseeing all museum budgets and finances, she also provides direct support to the museum’s Board of Directors. George spent 12 years as part the original staff at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, where she ultimately served as Director of Visitor Services, Security and Operations. George graduated from the Ohio State University with a B.A. degree in Journalism

Emily Havens is the Executive Director of GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi. Emily was previously on the Board of Directors for the Cleveland Music Foundation. Emily comes to the museum from an 18-year career as an Executive with the Chickasaw Council Boy Scouts of America. She holds a Master of Science in Community Development Degree from Delta State University. She is a member of Cleveland Rotary Club, Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce and is a Paul Harris Fellow. 

Dr. Mitsutoshi Inaba is from Hiroshima, Japan. He earned his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Oregon. He is the author of award winning book Willie Dixon: Preacher of the Blues (2011, Rowman and Littlefield). He teaches courses on African American studies and music at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. 

Dr. Stephen F. Lorenz is a cultural historian with a PhD in American Studies from George Washington University. He enjoys writing on the conjunction of music and social movements, and has worked on digital preservation initiatives for the Smithsonian’s Ralph Rinzler Archive of Folk Culture. He is currently a project advisor for the new DC Vernacular Music Archive at GWU, and helped organized “Hear in DC,” the archive’s opening exhibit and symposium on local folk, bluegrass, punk, and go-go music. 

Dr. Bret Pimentel joined the music faculty of Delta State University in 2009, where he teaches applied woodwinds and jazz courses. He is an active performer in a variety of musical styles, including classical music, jazz, blues, and rock. He has degrees in music performance from the University of Georgia, Indiana University and Brigham Young University.

Dr. Ronald Pimentel is the Faculty Director of the Professional Sales Program and a professor of marketing at Washington State University Vancouver. His research has two basic streams. One is pedagogical and relates to the program that he directs. The other is based on consumer behavior. He has published book chapters and articles in various journals. He has enjoyed playing blues on the bass for about 44 years. 

International blues poet and essayist Sterling Dominic Plumpp has authored 16 books including Half Black, Half Blacker, Black Rituals, Blues: The Story Always Untold, Blues Narratives, Clinton, Hornman, and Velvet BeBop Kente Cloth. Home/Bass received the 2014 American Book Award. Plumpp is Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he taught in the African American Studies and English departments. Professor Plumpp is the writer-in-residence at Mississippi Valley State University. 

Dr. April L. Prince joined the Loyola University New Orleans musicology faculty in 2012 as a lecturer. Her research interests, presented at both regional and national forums, focus on 19th-century German pianism, virtuosity, gender studies, and 20th-century country and blues of the American South. At Loyola, Prince teaches courses across the general curriculum. Her classes focus on music in a variety of cultural contexts—the American South, popular music, and music outside the Western tradition. 

Dr. Erik Richards is the Director of Bands and Assistant Professor of Music at DSU. He directs the DSU Wind Ensemble and Marching Band, teaches coursework in instrumental music education and conducting, and administers the DSU band program. He has presented research around the country and is active as a clinician, judge, and guest conductor. Dr. Richards is an artist/clinician for Jupiter Band Instruments, Inc. 

Leila Rosen taught English, including AP English Literature and Composition, in NYC high schools for 29 years. She has presented workshops about the success of the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method at education conferences in many states, speaking about poetry, drama, satire, and grammar. She is a co-author of the book Aesthetic Realism and the Answer to Racism, published by Orange Angle Press. 

Dr. Alphonso Sanders is Chair of Fine Arts and Director of the BB King Recording Studio at Mississippi Valley State University. He received music degrees from MVSU, Valdosta State, and the University of Mississippi. He has performed at the Netherlands North Sea, Montreux, and Mobile jazz festivals and the Lucerne Switzerland Blues Festival. As a Fulbright Scholars, he studied in China. 

Alan Shapiro is a jazz pianist, singer, choral director, and music educator in New York City. Co-author of Kaleidoscope of Cultures: A Celebration of Multicultural Research and Practice and Teaching Music in the Urban Classroom, he has presented in the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method and has lectured on jazz and blues, as well as classical music and opera. Mr. Shapiro is a performer and arranger with the Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company. 

Originally from Birmingham, Max Stehr is a bassist, pianist and composer with a BM in jazz performance and an MM in jazz arranging from William Paterson University of New Jersey. Max has performed in Europe, Japan, India and Kenya, and has played at the Montreux Jazz Festival and Jazz á Vienne. He is pursuing a DMA in jazz performance as a Hixson-Lied fellow at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

Kimber Thomas is a native of Jackson, Mississippi. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from Alcorn State University and her master’s degree in Afro-American Studies from UCLA. She is currently a second-year American Studies doctoral student at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her research interests include southern black material culture, folklore, and oral history. 

Dr. Kelvin Whalen is Director of Jazz Studies, Assistant Professor of Music at Columbus State University (GA). He has performed throughout the U.S. and Canada as the jazz trumpet chair of The Glenn Miller Orchestra and held a jazz trumpet chair in the GRAMMY-nominated University of North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band. He has presented at Ithaca College, the Eastman School of Music, the University of North Texas, and the International Trumpet Guild. 

Dr. Svetlana Polyakova is Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Intercultural Communication of Perm State University Russia. She completed her PhD in Cognitive Linguistics at Perm State. She teaches English at the Faculty of Law: Legal English (ESP), Intercultural professional communication, and English for International Human Rights. She is Deputy Dean for international relations and projects for educational, cultural and academic communication with the American and European Universities.