CAC announces ambitious 'Celebrate Mississippi' season

September 15, 2012 10:14:40 PM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


As far as the Columbus Arts Council is concerned, the visual and performing arts rock. And soar, and rhyme, and tell stories, cure the blues, stir the senses and even send a thrilling chill down the spine. The CAC hopes to do that, and more, with one of its most active fall and winter seasons yet. 


The arts organization's "Celebrate Mississippi" season launches Friday, Sept. 21, with "Songs of Mississippi," an evening with mezzo soprano Sarah Mabary and virtuoso pianist Victoria Johnson. The pair will showcase songs of living Mississippi composers in the Rosenzweig Arts Center Omnova Theater in downtown Columbus.  




More music, visual arts 


Other upcoming performers include country troubadour Britt Gully Sept. 25 in a Jimmie Rodgers tribute, acclaimed singer/songwriter Caroline Herring Oct. 4, the Starkville/MSU Symphony Orchestra Oct. 25, a Christmas concert by guitarist Stephanie Jackson, cellist Courtney Blackwell and vocalist Stephanie Stubbs Nov. 30, and Walter Parks and his swamp boogie blues band, Swamp Cabbage, Dec. 4.  


Monthly gallery shows and artist's talks will spotlight area and regional visual artists, while seasonal highlights -- like "Stage Fright" with Columbus Community Theatre, a pumpkin decorating contest and December's "MistleTales" for children -- enhance the holidays.  


Tuesday Tunes, on third Thursdays, offers a convivial mid-day break, with piano tunes and casual lunch in the arts council's Rosenzweig Arts Center gallery at 501 Main St. 


Workshops and classes, such as pine needle basketry, are also on the schedule. 


"The Magnolia State is a treasure trove of artistic talent, and we wanted to present a season that celebrated just that," said CAC Board President Ralph Null. 




Of spirits  


and storytellers 


Two new banner events on the CAC calendar are the revival of Columbus' popular Ghosts and Legends Tours, set for Nov. 9-10, and the inaugural Possum Town Tales Storytelling Festival Nov. 15-17. 


One of the arts council's goals is to develop and strengthen partnerships that enhance a vibrant arts and cultural community and appeal to a broad range of interests and ages, shared Tina Sweeten, executive director of the CAC.  


"So we're happy to collaborate with the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau and Mississippi University for Women's Department of Theatre, and its Center for Women's Research and Public Policy, to bring back the Ghosts and Legends Tours." The tours, previously presented by the Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation, return after a one-year hiatus. 


The storytelling festival will bring professional national storytellers to the Golden Triangle to regale audiences with tales both dramatic and comical.  


CAC Program Manager Beverly Norris is coordinating the festival lineup. 


"As a big fan of storytelling festivals for the past 20 years, I've been spellbound by the magic good storytellers create on the stage. They can keep you on the edge of your seat, bring a tear to the eye or have you rolling with laughter," she said. "We thought, 'Why can't we bring that to North Mississippi?' We already have several premier storytellers confirmed, including Sheila Kay Adams, Lynn Cabral and Dolores Hydock." 






and a sneak peak 


Another collaboration this fall will bring the Starkville/MSU Symphony Orchestra to Rent Auditorium in Columbus Oct. 25.  


"We're excited to host the orchestra and so pleased that this program will be offered free to the public," Sweeten stated. 


The Mississippi focus will carry into the spring and summer of 2013, with jazz, blues and programs on Magnolia State writers, artists and actors, including films made in or about the state. 


One major 2013 Concert and Artist Series performance, however, will showcase an Indiana native. 


"We hope everyone will mark their calendars for Feb. 8, for Metropolitan Opera dramatic soprano Angela Brown at Rent Auditorium," said Norris. "What a true honor, to welcome her to Mississippi." The arts council is arranging for Brown to perform for some school audiences and to conduct master classes at MUW. 


For details about these and other fall and winter events, check often at, call 662-328-2787, or follow the arts council on Facebook.

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.