July 7, 2010 10:59:00 AM
Big Joe Shelton of Columbus has been awarded a $4,400 Fellowship grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission.
This grant is a portion of the $1.64 million in grants the commission will award in 2010-2011 and will be used to complete his current record project.
The CD, which features 10 original tracks penned by Shelton, is being recorded over the summer at the B.B. King Recording Studio on the campus of Mississippi Valley State University at Itta Bena.
The grants are made possible by continued funding from the Mississippi State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.
"The artists across Mississippi continue to use their talent to showcase the value of the arts to the state," said Malcolm White, executive director of MAC. "Their creation of art and participation in local events and activities helps to insure the economic success of their community and the state as a whole."
Shelton is a multi-talented Black Prairie Blues musician from Columbus who plays the harmonica and guitar, in addition to singing and writing songs.
His 2008 release, "Black Prairie Blues," was a finalist in the 2009 International Blues Challenge for the Best Self-Produced CD Award. A song from that album, "Devil Lives in Memphis," was nominated for 2008 song of the year by Blues Critic Magazine reader''s poll.
The album was listed in the top 10 on numerous national and international blues radio charts including Australia,
The Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany, and the United States. It also received extensive play on Sirius XM satellite radio''s B.B. King''s Bluesville program.
The CD garnered stellar reviews from national and international blues music magazines including Living Blues, Elmore Magazine, Blues Matters, Juke Blues and Blues Review.
In the October/November 2008 review in Blues Review, it said, "He should be named an auxiliary member of the Mississippi Chamber of Commerce for advancing his home state''s interest with Black Prairie Blues."
The Mississippi Arts Commission is a state agency providing grants that support programs to enhance communities; assist artists and arts organizations; promote the arts in education and celebrate cultural heritage.
The commission is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, the Phil Hardin Foundation, Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and other private sources.