JACKSON, Miss. – The 31st annual Governor’s Arts Awards will air on MPB Television and MPB Think Radio at 8 p.m. Feb. 15. An encore television broadcast is set for 2 p.m. Feb. 17.
Each year the awards are presented to outstanding individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to or achieved excellence in Mississippi arts. This year’s ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Old Capitol Museum in downtown Jackson. A public reception at 4:30 p.m. will precede the ceremony. Established in 1988, the awards event is presented by the Mississippi Arts Commission in partnership with the Governor’s Office.
The seven recipients this year are as follows:
- Dr. London Branch: Excellence in Music and Education – An accomplished classical and jazz musician as well as a music educator, Branch is the founder of Jackson State University’s Symphony Orchestra.
- The Canton Spirituals: Lifetime Achievement Award – One of the nation’s most popular and influential gospel groups, the Canton Spirituals formed in 1943 and still perform today. The group pioneered an urban sound, which blends R&B and the blues with gospel.
- Ruth Miller: Excellence in Visual Art – She is a textile artist who creates realistic portraits, landscapes and abstract works made entirely of yarn. Miller is a past recipient of Mississippi Arts Commission’s visual art fellowship. She has taught at Tougaloo College and the prestigious Penland School of Crafts.
- New Stage Theatre: Excellence in Theatre – Founded in 1965, it is the only professional theatre in Jackson, Miss., with more than 50 years in operation. The theatre has been committed to presenting diverse voices through its productions and casting.
- James Patterson: Excellence in Photography and Community Support – The late Jackson-area portrait, commercial and fine art photographer was a regular contributor to such publications as the New York Times, the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and many other respected publications and in advertisements for well-known brands. Patterson was a longtime friend to the Mississippi arts community and promoted artists and events.
- Hartley and Mary Peavey: Governor’s Choice Award – The Peaveys own and operate Peavey Electronics founded by Hartley Peavey in 1965. Peavey is an internationally known brand serving musicians everywhere with quality sound products. The Peaveys are active supporters and advocates of arts education.
- Julia Reed: Cultural Ambassador – The Greenville, Mississippi native’s long career in journalism led her to posts at Elle Décor, Garden & Gun, Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Newsweek and Vogue. Though she traveled the world in her various roles, Reed has long served as a cultural ambassador for the state. She is the author of six books and is also an instrumental organizer of the Delta Hot Tamale Festival.