Mississippi Grammy Museum hosts sneak preview
CLEVELAND - Mississippian Dorothy Moore first walked the red carpet of the Grammy Awards after the 1976 breakout success of her album “Misty Blue.”
On Thursday, Moore was able to experience the Grammys all over again, but this time in her home state as the Grammy Museum Mississippi in Cleveland opened for private tours in advance of the grand opening Saturday.
“It means so much for Mississippi,” Moore said. “It puts us on a pedestal that I didn’t think was possible. We used to look to Hollywood for all of this. My grandchildren can come here, learn and experience a lot of things musically.”
Educational outreach to younger generations is one of the key facets for museum officials, who point out the $20 million facility is the most technologically-advanced music-themed museum in the South.
“In the state of Mississippi there are so many reduced arts and education programs, so we have to help fill that gap,” said museum executive director Emily Havens, who noted the museum has partnered with two schools, including local Bayou Academy, that do not have a band program.
“Our hope is that they will take that back to the school and it will be the catalyst to say ‘we need a band here,'" said Havens, who referred to the museum as a “field trip” destination because of the amount of interactive exhibits.
Visitors are greeted with a brief history of the Grammy award itself before launching into a breakdown of memorable moments in the show’s history. A mini surround-sound theater plays Grammy performances that are unavailable online, surrounded by memorable red carpet wardrobes including Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Mississippian Marty Stuart.
“They’ve never even been to the dry cleaners. You can see make-up stains,” says a volunteer guide.
The museum also holds memorabilia from famous Grammy performances, including the giant feather costume worn by Cee Lo Green during a 2011 rendition of “Forget You” and the robot helmet-topped white suits worn by Daft Punk in 2014.
Interactive exhibits include a history of dance led by Grammy winner Ne-Yo, a Roland Live exhibit that gives visitors access to live instruments. A mono to surround listening center shows the difference in sound from vinyl recording to Dolby surround sound.
Blues musician Keb’ Mo’ allows visitors inside the recording process with interactive exhibits that gives people a chance to write and sing songs, and then take them into an engineering studio.
The “crown jewel” of the interactive features is the Mississippi Music Timeline and Map in the Mississippi section of the museum. A 12-person touchscreen table designed after the Mississippi River tracks 80 influential Mississippi musicians and tracks their influence.
Clicking on Ike Turner, whose song “Rocket 88” is considered the first rock and roll song in history, follows his influence into Sly and the Family Stone into the 1990s with hip-hop artist Mos Def.
The table sits in a room surrounded by a Mississippi Music Bar, which provides playlists of famous songs by Mississippians. A timeline traces the state’s influence beginning in 1903 when W.C. Handy listened to primitive slide guitar in Cleveland.
“It tells Mississippi’s story in a way that you might not have appreciated before,” said Gallagher and Associates senior producer Mike Buday, the museum’s lead design team. “I didn’t know how many other artists in pop, gospel, rock, country have also come from Mississippi It was a great way to frame that using state-of-the-art technology.”
(Story continues after gallery)
The ribbon cutting Saturday is the culmination of a four-year fundraising and construction project. The Mississippi museum is the first Grammy museum outside of Los Angeles, and the site was chosen to highlight the state’s rich history. Mississippi is home to more Grammy nominations per capita than any other state.
“People hear the word “Grammy,” and think Hollywood, but if you really look deeper at to what the Recording Academy is, the Grammy Award is a celebration of all musical genres and all types of artists,” said curator Nwaka Onwusa. “Without Mississippi, we wouldn’t have rock and roll, pop and all of these other things. The Delta has changed and transformed all of these genres.”
Following the opening of the Museum Saturday at 10 a.m., a benefit concert led by eight-time CMA Musician of the year Mac McAnally will be held at Delta State University’s Bologna Performance Arts Center. The Williams Brothers, Sonny Landreth and Muddy Magnolias will also perform.
Monday through Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m .
Sunday 12 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Tickets: Adults ($12), seniors ($10), Youth under 18 ($6), Children under five (free)