MAC Announces 2019 Governor’s Arts Awards Recipients

JACKSON, MISS. – September 25, 2018 – The Mississippi Arts Commission is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 Governor’s Arts Awards. Established in 1988, Governor’s Arts Awards are given to individuals and organizations to recognize outstanding work in the artistic disciplines as well as arts-based community development and arts patronage in Mississippi. The awards are presented in partnership with the Governor’s Office and signify the important relationship between government and the arts.

The 2019 recipients and awards are as follows:

London Branch – Excellence in Music and Education

The Canton Spirituals – Lifetime Achievement Award

Ruth Miller – Excellence in Visual Art

New Stage Theatre – Excellence in Theatre

James Patterson – Excellence in Photography and Community Support

Hartley and Mary Peavey – Governor’s Choice Award

Julia Reed – Cultural Ambassador

The 2019 recipients will be recognized at the 31st Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony at the Old Capitol Museum in downtown Jackson on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at 6 p.m. A public reception at 4:30 p.m. will precede the ceremony.

“These seven recipients embody excellence in their respective fields and deserve the highest honor for their achievements,” said Malcolm White, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission. “We are looking forward to recognizing this talented group in February with another entertaining and inspiring edition of the Governor’s Arts Awards, which is now in its 31st year.”

About the Recipients

Dr. London Branch is an accomplished classical and jazz musician as well as a music educator. He is the founder of Jackson State University’s symphony orchestra. Dr. Branch taught at JSU for more than three decades, performed for 25 years with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra as a jazz bassist and was the first African American to be a guest conductor with the Mississippi All State Orchestra in 1984.

The Canton Spirituals are one of the nation’s most popular and influential gospel groups. Formed in 1943, the Canton Spirituals still perform today. The group pioneered an urban sound, which blends R&B and the blues with gospel. They have two gold-certified records to their credit and have either been nominated for or won most major music industry awards, including GRAMMY Awards, Stellar Gospel Music Awards, Dove Awards and Soul Train Music Awards.

Ruth Miller is a textile artist who creates realistic portraits, landscapes and abstract works made entirely of yarn. Intricately crafted, one of her tapestries can take up to a year to complete. Miller is a past recipient of Mississippi Arts Commission’s visual art fellowship, a 2014 Mississippi Invitational Artist at the Mississippi Museum of Art, and she has been included in numerous group and solo exhibitions throughout the state and country. She has also taught at Tougaloo College and the prestigious Penland School of Crafts.  

New Stage Theatre is the only professional theatre in Jackson, Miss., with more than 50 years in operation. Since its founding in 1965, the theatre has been committed to presenting diverse voices through its productions and casting. New Stage has a history of presenting cutting-edge plays as well as crowd-pleasing favorites. The theatre also promotes new work through its Eudora Welty New Play Series, which attracts submissions from playwrights throughout the country. The theatre continues to increase its audiences with more than 37,000 tickets sold last year.

James Patterson is Jackson-area portrait, commercial and fine art photographer who is a regular contributor to such publications as the New York Times, the Washington PostWall Street Journal and many other respected publications and in advertisements for well-known brands. He is a sought-after photographer whose work has been published internationally. Patterson has long been a friend to the Mississippi arts community by promoting artists and events and providing artists with free or heavily discounted work as well as exhibit or performance space.

Hartley and Mary Peavey 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 also active supporters and advocates of arts education, donating time and resources to ensure children have opportunities to learn in and through the arts. Mary Peavey also served the arts in Mississippi through her work as a MAC Commissioner from 2011 to 2016.

Julia Reed is a Greenville, Miss. native whose long career in journalism led her to posts at Elle DécorGarden & Gun, Wall Street Journal, the New York TimesNewsweek and Vogue. Though she traveled the world in her various roles, Reed has long served as a cultural ambassador for the state, sharing Southern traditions, culture and recipes through her popular columns and books. She is the author of six books, including Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern PhenomenaBut Mama Always Put Vodka in the Sangria and South Toward Home, Adventures and Misadventures in my Native Land. Reed is also an instrumental organizer of the Delta Hot Tamale Festival, who has helped attract national attention to the small town festival through her writing and literary connections. 

About the Governor’s Arts Awards

The Governor’s Arts Awards is an annual ceremony that recognizes individuals and organizations that have made noteworthy contributions to the arts in the state of Mississippi. Schools, businesses, organizations, arts initiatives and events are eligible to receive Governor’s Arts Awards, in addition to individual artists and supporters of the arts. Notable past recipients include John Grisham, B.B. King, Thalia Mara, the Craftsman’s Guild of Mississippi and Malaco Records.

Award winners are nominated by members of the public and selected by a jury of community arts leaders and industry peers. Recipients are not required to be Mississippi residents, but they must have significant ties to the state through some years of residency.

Donor contributions help make the Governor’s Arts Awards a special occasion for those honored. If you are interested in sponsoring February’s event, please contact communications@arts.ms.gov.

Contact:  Anna Ehrgott | Communications Director | aehrgott@arts.ms.gov | (601) 359-6546