• William Ferris is one of the country’s preeminent scholars on the American South and founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. In 1997, Ferris became chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Since 2002, he has served as Joel Williamson Eminent Professor of History and Associate Director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina.

• Tricia Walker is an award-winning singer and writer whose songs have been recorded by Faith Hill, Patty Loveless and Alison Krauss. She has worked as a backing musician for Grand Ole Opry star Connie Smith, Paul Overstreet, Russ Taff and Shania Twain.  Walker Tricia earned a degree in music education from Delta State University, and she has won American Song Festival and Mississippi Song Festival awards.

• Brad Franklin, a Jackson State University graduate, pioneered Southern hip-hop as part of Crooked Lettaz with David Banner. Franklin went on to a successful solo career, recording several albums. He also is founder and director of Jackson Independent Music Week.

• Scott Barretta, a writer/researcher for the Mississippi Blues Trail, hosts the Highway 61 music program on Mississippi Public Broadcasting. He is co-author of a curriculum for elementary school students based on the Mississippi Blues Trail and a producer for the documentary film Shake ‘em on Down about Mississippi Fred McDowell.

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