‘Jackson’ by Lucinda Williams

Jackson appears on Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, the fifth studio album by singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams. Car Wheels, released on June 30, 1998, by Mercury Records, won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album and was Williams’ first album to go “gold” for sales of 500,000 units. Jackson, which tracks a road trip through Louisiana and Mississippi, is like a roll-call of Southern towns along the way, many of which are significant to Williams. She said in a 2016 interview that her sister was born in Jackson and her brother in Vicksburg, which is also mentioned in the song.

‘Cadillac on 22’s’ by David Banner

Cadillac on 22’s is a popular single that appeared on rapper and record producer David Banner’s second studio album,  Mississippi: The Album. Released on May 20, 2003, the album was his major-label debut on SRC Records and Universal Records. Born in Brookhaven, Banner later moved with his family to Jackson, where he grew up. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Banner started his music career as a member of the rap duo Crooked Lettaz, before going solo in 2000 with the release Them Firewater Boyz, Vol. 1.

‘Shake ‘Em on Down’ by Mississippi Fred McDowell

Early blues singer Bukka White recorded Shake ‘Em On Down in Chicago in 1937 just before his incarceration at the infamous Parchman Prison Farm in Mississippi. Many musicians have re-recorded the song, including Mississippi Fred McDowell, who offered several renditions, using both acoustic and electric slide guitars. Born in Rossville, Tenn., McDowell moved in 1928 to Mississippi to pick cotton and finally settled in Como. His playing and singing styles became internationally known through recordings Alan Lomax made of his music in 1959. His life and music have recently been documented in a film, Shake ‘Em on Down, by Joe York and Scott Barretta.

‘Great Balls of Fire’ by Jerry Lee Lewis

Great Balls of Fire was recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis in 1957 on Sun Records in Memphis. Written by Otis Blackwell and Jack Hammer, the song also was featured in the 1957 movie Jamboree. Lewis’ signature tune, which epitomizes his incendiary style, was ranked as the 96th greatest song ever by Rolling Stone magazine and sold 1 million copies in its first 10 days of release in the United States and 5 million copies total. Not surprisingly, Great Balls of Fire is one of the world’s best-selling singles of all time. Lewis, born in Ferriday, La., near Natchez, now lives in Nesbit in North Mississippi.

New college name boosts DSU’s ‘best kept secret’

Delta State University’s College of Business is flying under a new name: the College of Business and Aviation. The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board recently approved the renaming of the academic college. “I believe changing the name to the College of Business and Aviation helps promote two very important items,” said Dr. Charles McAdams, Delta State’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “First, the name lets everyone know that we have a (commercial) aviation program. This is significant as we are the only IHL institution with an aviation degree.

Biloxi lowers state and city flags

Biloxi’s mayor has ordered the state flag and the city flag removed from all city facilities, the Sun Herald reports. When Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich took office in May 2015, the state flag was taken down from City Hall. The flag, adopted by the Legislature in 1894, contains the Confederate battle emblem. State public universities and some municipalities have no longer fly the flag. “He thought everyone at all city facilities had followed suit, but much to his surprise, they had not,” city spokesman Vincent Creel was quoted by the Sun Herald on Monday.

‘Billion Dollar Buyer’ shares story of his success at Ole Miss

Tillman Fertitta, CNBC’s Billion Dollar Buyer, headlines an event at The Pavilion on the Ole Miss campus May 5. Most recognizable for his television show, which premiered on the cable network in March 2016, Fertitta is better known in the business world as chairman and CEO of Landry’s Inc.

Landry’s owns and operates more than 500 properties, including more than 40 brands such as Landry’s Seafood, Chart House, Saltgrass Steak House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Claim Jumper, Morton’s The Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick’s, Mastro’s and the Rainforest Cafe. Five Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino locations are in the mix, as well as numerous other hotel properties and other entertainment destinations. Admission to Fertitta’s appearance is free, with the first 1,000 attendees receiving a free lunch. The event is sponsored by Renasant Bank, Evans Petree, P.C. and White Construction and hosted by the University of Mississippi School of Business, Ole Miss Athletics and the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

Edds named Mississippi Arts Commission chair

Butler Snow attorney Stephen Edds has been named chairman of the Mississippi Arts Commission, the law firm announced in a press release. The Commission, made up of fifteen members appointed by the governor, serves as the official grants-making and service agency for the arts in Mississippi. “Steve’s passion for the arts is well known throughout the firm and the state,” said Donald Clark Jr., Chairman, Butler Snow. “We know that he will serve as an effective and positive leader of the Commission.”

The Mississippi Legislature created the Mississippi Arts Commission in 1968 as a catalyst for private support of the arts. The release noted that the commission fosters networks of local leaders, artists of all disciplines, arts volunteers and patrons; consults on community arts development, performing, visual and literary arts, folk arts, and arts education; provides training in arts management, arts education planning, arts facilities planning and communitywide cultural planning; and promotes broad-based public awareness of the importance of the arts in education and community life.

State closes Old Natchez Trace Lake for dam repairs

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks has closed the Old Natchez Trace Lake at Trace State Park west of Tupelo, the Daily Journal reported. The closure is necessary to drain the lake, which has begun, so that the agency can repair damage to the dam of the 565-acre lake, state Fisheries Bureau director Larry Pugh told the newspaper. The water level of the main lake was lowered in 2016 to begin repairs to the backside of the dam, where sections of dirt had started to slide, the Journal reported. The newspaper reported that winter rains and the development of additional slides on the front side of the dam forced officials to begin draining the lake to prepare for more extensive repairs. Officials said fishing is no longer permitted on the main lake, only on the small pond near the park entrance.

Look, up in the sky … drones

Drones will be demonstrated and evaluated in Mississippi by the Department of Homeland Security starting this fall, the Sun Herald reports. Mississippi State University will lead the project. Research and development of small unmanned aerial systems, known as drones, will be conducted at Camp Shelby, which is the Army National Guard’s national drone-training center; buffer zone areas at Stennis Space Center, which is used for Department of Defense special-operations training; and restricted airspace accessible from the U.S. Coast Guard facilities on Singing River Island in Jackson County. “Mississippi has a number of unique assets that facilitate unmanned aircraft test flights that aren’t found in many other places, and we can fly year-round,” said Dallas Brooks, director of MSU’s Raspet Flight Research Laboratory, who will lead the demonstration-range team. Drones will be evaluated in a variety of simulated scenarios such as border protection; floods, fires and earthquakes; highway and rail accidents and containment of hazardous-materials spills.

Shaifer House vandalized in Port Gibson


The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has temporarily closed the historic Shaifer House on the Port Gibson battlefield in Claiborne County. Thieves removed four wooden support beams and damaged interior flooring and walls in the nearly two-hundred-year-old landmark, the department said in a press release on Thursday. The theft was discovered on April 1, and Archives officials believe the vandalism occurred earlier that week, according to the release. The press release said that staff from the Department of Archives and History, which administers the site, have made an initial stabilization of the site to prevent further damage. Because permanent repairs have not yet been made, the site has been closed to the public, the department said.

Judge cuts Cecil McCrory’s fine from $150,000 to $20,000 in prison bribery case

The monetary fine to be paid by Cecil McCrory, a Brandon businessman who admitted he bribed former Mississippi prisons chief Christopher Epps and helped him launder money, has been reduced from $150,000 to $20,000. U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate lowered the amount Wednesday after McCrory testified Wednesday that his debts outweigh his assets and he doesn’t have enough money to pay the higher amount, the Associated Press reports. Wingate ruled that McCrory should start making fine payments while he is in prison, and be required to pay at least $150 a month once he is released. McCrory, a former state lawmaker, was sentenced in February to serve 8½ years. McCrory was supposed to report to prison April 4, but he remains free on bail so he can testify in lawsuits brought by Attorney General Jim Hood that seek to recover money paid to prison contractors in cases where bribes changed hands, AP says.

Inclusion ‘Starts with (Me)ek’ at Ole Miss

It Starts with (Me)ek, a conference designed to encourage inclusion and respect while rejecting stereotypes, begins April 19 on the University of Mississippi campus. It is hosted by the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. The five-day conference, open to all students, faculty, staff and community members, will feature panelists and guest speakers discussing race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and religion. Shepard Smith, chief news anchor and managing editor for Fox News Network’s Breaking News Division, and Otis Sanford, author of From Boss Crump to King Willie: How Race Changed Memphis and Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis, are among the keynote speakers. “This campaign is particularly important to our Meek School students because as professional journalists, public relations specialists or integrated marketing communications specialists, students will be dealing with and working with many different kinds of people,” said Robin Street, senior lecturer in public relations.