The Governor’s Arts Awards program signifies the important relationship between government and the arts. Established in 1988, the Governor’s Arts Awards recognize individuals and organizations who have made noteworthy contributions to or achieved artistic excellence in Mississippi. The Mississippi Arts Commission presents the awards each year in partnership with the Governor’s Office.

Governor's Arts Awards Logo surrounded by headshots of the recipients Earl Poole Ball, Cedric Burnside, 100 Men Hall, Brent Funderburk, Peter Zapletal
Governor’s Arts Awards Logo surrounded by headshots of the recipients Earl Poole Ball, Cedric Burnside, 100 Men Hall, Brent Funderburk, Peter Zapletal
Watch the extended version of the speeches from the 2024 Governor’s Arts Awards.

Earl Poole Ball - Lifetime Achievement

EARL POOLE BALL (JR) (March 12, 1941) is a pianist, singer-songwriter, music producer and actor. His musical work spans the Americana, Country, Gospel, and Rockabilly genres.

He has recorded and/or performed with Buck Owens & the Buckaroos, Gram Parsons’ International Submarine Band, Merle Haggard, Carl Perkins, Marty Stuart, Freddie Hart, Phil Ochs, Michael Nesmith, Marty Robbins, Wynn Stewart, the Flying Burrito Brothers and on the Byrds iconic album Sweetheart of the Rodeo. He is best known for the 20 years spent touring and recording with Johnny Cash.

Ball hails from Foxworth Mississippi where his aunt Kathryn Ball taught him how to play the piano at the Foxworth First Baptist Church. Later he learned how to play the popular country and early rockabilly songs on the radio and was a part of a local Columbia band called the Hill Cats. Ball Auditioned for JIMMY SWAN’s country dance band and got the job hitch-hiking back and forth to Hattiesburg to play on television, the McCaffrey Supermarket sponsored JIMMY SWAN SHOW where he met a young EDDIE HODGES and family. He performed in the local bars while in high school and afterward and supplemented his music career by selling Fuller Brushes door to door.

At age 20 his father gave him a bus ticket to his chosen destination of Houston Texas where he honed his craft after meeting MICKEY GILLEY who showed him the ropes of survival in the world of honky-tonk piano players. Gilley remained a lifelong friend until his recent passing.

While spending 3 years in Houston where a young GLEN CAMPBELL sat in with his band the Shades, Ball worked 4 or 5 nights in the bars and sold sewing machines in the day and finally bought a car. Ball then he traveled to Southern California where he looked up his pal EDDIE HODGES and another friend from Texas DICK STUBBS and found work in the lively country music scene in clubs and on local television. Studio work soon followed, and he was called for many recording sessions at Columbia, RCA, and Capitol records. The newly founded ACADEMY of COUNTRY MUSIC named Ball PIANO PLAYER of the YEAR in 1967 and 1968.

While working for Cliffie Stone’s Central Songs Music, Ball placed the song his friends had written TRY A LITTLE KINDNESS with his old friend GLEN CAMPBELL for a number #1 hit.

In 1969 Ball was offered an executive position with Capitol records as assistant to the vice-president in charge of country music the legendary KEN NELSON In addition to his other duties –filling in for Nelson he produced the most memorable “TRIBUTE TO THE WORLD’S BEST DAMN FIDDLE PLAYER” album (MY SALUTE TO BOB WILLS) by the great MERLE HAGGARD!

In 1972 Ball was made a full producer and transferred to the Nashville office where he took over the responsibility of producing the hottest act in country music at that time –FREDDIE HART. He was able to follow up Hart’s smash EASY LOVING with a #1 hit for 6 weeks MY HANG-UP IS YOU—followed by 2 more #1 singles and albums.
Ball continued to play recording sessions as a pianist and was referred to JOHNNY CASH by the great songwriter HARLAN HOWARD via one of the songs Ball played on.
Cash liked what he heard on the session and offered Ball a position in his traveling show just as Ball was finding that the corporate life was not the joy he had hoped for, and he missed the thrill of performing for live audiences. So, a deal was struck, and Ball traveled with the CASH show doing traveling, recordings and television for the next 20 years—also producing the remarkable CASH album ROCKABILLY BLUES in 1980.

When asked to contribute a song to the famed movie director PETER BOGDANOVICH’S latest film in 1980 —THEY ALL LAUGHED starring AUDREY HEPBURN and BEN GAZZARA, Ball was hired on as the band leader in the film and a musical friendship was formed. BOGDANOVICH and BALL would write several songs for subsequent films such as The THING CALLED LOVE with RIVER PHOENIX and TEXASVILLE where Ball also had role as an actor appearing as Junior Nolan–JEFF BRIDGES’ pal. Ball also acted with ANDY GRIFFITH and CASH in the made for TV movie MURDER IN COWETA COUNTY directed by GARY NELSON who also became a very close friend.

Since 1999, Ball continues to do studio work, and to make music with his band EARL POOLE BALL & THE FANTABULOUS FRIENDS. He also performs with the HEYBALE band and is working on his autobiography. He currently resides in Austin Texas.

Cedric Burnside - Excellence in Music

North Mississippi Hill Country blues musician Cedric Burnside was born in Memphis on August 26, 1978. For three decades, Burnside gained rich experience performing in the Hill Country blues tradition, notably playing drums for many years with his grandfather, Hill Country blues legend R.L. Burnside (1926-2005). Cedric later became active as a vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter for work that both honored local traditions and broke new ground musically.

He grew up in the Holly Springs area in a large household headed by R.L. Burnside and his wife Alice Mae, the parents of Cedric’s mother, Linda. His father, Calvin Jackson (1961-2015), began playing drums and recording with R.L. Burnside in his mid-teens.

Cedric Burnside’s first exposure to blues was via house parties hosted by his grandfather, including Jackson and Cedric Burnside’s uncles, Daniel and Joseph Burnside. Other family members, including his uncles Junior, Dexter, Duwayne, and Garry (who is close in age to Cedric), would also perform occasionally at the house parties. Cedric was also immersed in rural traditions, helping the family raise crops and tend to their animals.

In the early 1990s, the Burnside family moved to a home in Chulahoma, southwest of Holly Springs, next door to “Junior’s Place,” a juke joint run by Junior Kimbrough. Until this point, Burnside mainly had played drums on buckets, pans, and cans; he now took every opportunity to play the drum kit in the club. In the mid-1990s, Calvin Jackson moved to the Netherlands, and Cedric Burnside became the regular drummer for his grandfather’s band. In addition to playing at Junior Kimbrough’s, Cedric Burnside began touring nationally and internationally with his grandfather, who had gained fame via his recordings on Fat Possum Records. He appeared on multiple R.L. Burnside albums and played drums on the recordings of other artists from the region, including the North Mississippi Allstars, his uncle Duwayne, and Kenny Brown (R.L. Burnside’s guitarist); he also toured with Brown as a duo.

His first album was Burnside Exploration (2006), recorded with Garry, followed by two collaborations with Lightnin’ Malcolm. As the Cedric Burnside Project, he recorded The Way I Am (2012), featuring rap lyrics by his brother Cody (1982-2012), and the Grammy-nominated Descendants of Hill Country (2015), featuring Garry Burnside and Trenton Ayers, son of Hill Country blues veteran Earl “Little Joe” Ayers. His first solo album was the Grammy-nominated Benton County Relic (2018), followed by the critically acclaimed and GRAMMY-winning album I Be Trying (2021), which features him on guitar and mixes traditional hill country sounds with new compositions.

Burnside gained acclaim among blues fans for his powerful and enthusiastic drumming, as well as his off-stage charm and poise. He is the recipient of multiple Blues Music Awards and Living Blues Awards. Burnside was in his early 40s in 2021 when he was named a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) National Heritage Fellow. Shortly after receiving the NEA National Heritage Fellowship, he began appearing in the touring musical Voices of Mississippi, based on the fieldwork of folklorist William Ferris. The musical, staged at Lincoln Center in early 2022, celebrates Burnside’s and other younger artists’ deep roots in Hill Country traditions.

Brent Funderburk - Excellence in Visual Arts and Education

Brent Funderburk is a William L. Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Mississippi State University where he served as Art Department head and taught for 36 years. He has been recognized with the University’s highest academic, teaching and research honors, including the Southeastern Conference Faculty Excellence Award (2016), the John Grisham Teaching Award, the Ralph E. Powe Faculty Research Award, and the Burlington Northern Faculty Excellence Award, among others.

An artist known for his exuberantly-hued watermedia paintings as well as energetic teaching and lectures, Brent Funderburk is a Charlotte, North Carolina native who has worked as a teacher/administrator for three universities in three states over 40 years. From a robust life of art practice and travel, Funderburk has researched, produced, exhibited and lectured passionately, working from life and in the studio in Starkville, Mississippi. He has presented 34 one-person exhibitions across the U.S, and has been represented by galleries in Jackson, Atlanta, Charlotte, New Orleans and Memphis (etc.), with work in public and private collections across the U.S. and abroad, such as the Mississippi Museum of Art, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and Memphis-Brooks Museum of Art.

Funderburk’s artwork has been juried into over 100 regional, national and international shows, with numerous awards, such as the International Society of Experimental Artists Award, the Holbein Artist Award, and Isabey-Savoir Faire Award, at the National Watercolor Society 100th International Open Exhibition (San Pedro, CA, 2020), the Artistic Excellence Special Award I at the Missouri International Exhibition (Barcelona, Spain, St, Louis, MO, 2020), the Juror’s Special Award and Certificate of Merit at the 6th Fabriano International Prize (Fabriano, Italy, 2020), and had work that toured seven Chinese museums in the Shenzhen International Watercolour Biennial (2015-16).

Brent Funderburk’s work has been published widely, in national/international periodicals such as American Artist, Artists Magazine, Creative Quarterly: The Journal of Art and Design, Studio Visit, Watercolor Artist Magazine, Southwest Art and Splash: The Best of Watercolor. Funderburk’s painting “One to One” was the chosen as cover art for the 2022 Splash annual publication.

In 2010, Funderburk was named the Official Artist of the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS.

Regarded for his depth of research and enthusiastic delivery, Funderburk has presented talks to over 100 museums, universities and to professional organizations across the country. He curated and lectured with the exhibition “Ecstasy- The Mystical Landscapes of Walter Anderson” that toured four U.S. museums (2008-2010), as well as has spoken about Anderson in association with the Smithsonian Institute exhibit “Everything I See is New and Strange” (2003). In addition to presenting his multi-media lectures, such as “A Halcyon Day! A Day in the Life of Walter Anderson”, “Deep Harvest”, and “The Beathing Eye”, he has presented illustrated lectures on 20th Century visionary modern American artists such as Will Henry Stevens, Robert Henri and Edward Reep, subjects such as American watercolor, art and architecture, and often about his own art.

Funderburk has taught courses dedicated to the vision of Walter Anderson; “Sea Earth Sky” (‘80s), “Encounters” (‘90s), and “Walter Inglis Anderson and American Art” (2018), has led field classes in U.S. national parks, and has taught semester courses in Vicenza (2007) and Rome (2016), Italy.

The artist is married to dancer/choreographer Deborah Wyatt Funderburk, a retired university professor in Dance at Mississippi State University. They have two adult sons, and reside in Starkville, Mississippi.

Peter Zapletal - Excellence in Performing Arts

The Artistic Director for Puppet Arts Theatre, Peter Zapletal, grew up in former Czechoslovakia, recognized as the world center of modern puppetry. After graduating with a Master’s Degree in Puppetry from the Academy of the Performing Arts in Prague, he joined the professional puppet theatre in Zilina, Slovakia. Soon afterwards, he and his family emigrated to New York, where he and his wife, Jarmila, immediately started to produce puppet performances.

By 1970 he was recognized in a New York Times article as a talent to watch. But his path took a turn south – literary – and he moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where he joined the local PBS station as a puppeteer in residence. During the next 32 years, he created many instructional and special programs with and without puppets. His instructional programs were seen in classrooms across the United States, and special programs, from Beauty and the Beast to Steadfast Tin Soldier with Burl Ives to Bolero (a ballet special), were broadcast by PBS stations.

Peter Zapletal garnered more than 50 national awards, among them five Emmy Awards for Ticktock Minutes, the Silver Circle Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for 25 years of excellence in television puppetry, and the Puppeteers of America Award for high standards and continued excellence in puppetry.

In addition to his television work, he and his wife, Jarmila, also produced many shows that Puppet Arts Theatre tours throughout the Southeast, offering magical and exciting theatrical experiences. As he likes to say, “without his wife’s help, their puppets would run around naked.” Those tours took him and the company from Southaven in the north Mississippi to Gulfport in the south, from Vicksburg in the west to Meridian in the east, and everywhere in between. In Tupelo, Oxford, Laurel, Hattiesburg, Biloxi, or Poplarville, where there were schools with an interest in bringing live performances, Puppet Arts Theatre was there.

Mr. Zapletal’s other professional activities include stage directing Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Telephone and The Medium, operas with Opera South at Jackson State University, directing Hansel & Gretel and The Golem with the Millsaps Players at Millsaps College, serving as President of Union Internationale de la Marionette – USA, Inc., Artistic Director for three National Festivals of the Puppeteers of America, and as Artistic Coordinator for the 1980 World Puppetry Festival at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, in Washington, D.C.

100 Men Hall - Arts in Community

The 100 Men Hall was built by and for the African American community of Bay Saint Louis, MS. Until the 1960s, the African American population in Mississippi and other places in the South were denied access to burial and medical insurance. However, 12 civic-minded African American men in Bay Saint Louis came together to form a benevolent society (1894) to care for their community. From the nonprofit organization grew a desire for a place to gather and celebrate all life events, and the 100 Men Hall was built (1922). The Hall became the epicenter of Black life and culture for the MS Gulf Coast, allowing talented artists and musicians excluded from other venues an exhibition space while supporting cooperative economics. Over the decades, the Hall has attracted legendary musicians such as James Brown, Etta James, and Ray Charles as a stop on the “Chitlin’ Circuit.” Significantly, it is one of the few physical landmarks still standing on the Mississippi Blues Trail, a rare African American landmark in the South, and today operates as a living museum and testament to its past, present, and future.

Rachel Dangermond purchased the Hall in 2018 and resurrected the (1894) 501c3 nonprofit and was inspired to continue the tradition of using art to tell stories by showcasing a variety of performance, spoken, visual, and literary work while continuing the sacred act of presenting live music on its historic stage. The Hall celebrates and elevates cultural diversity throughout the year with events like A Soulful Christmas, Juneteenth Jubilees, Dia de los Muertos, The Matzo Ball, and more. Every Second Saturday, the 100 Men Hall transforms into a haven for writers: The Writing Room. It’s a unique assembly where writers convene to craft their tales within a place steeped in its own stories. At the helm of this creative vessel is author-in-residence Ellen Morris Prewitt.

The 2024 recipients will be recognized at the 36th Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony at the Two Mississippi Museums in downtown Jackson on Thursday, February 8, 2024, at 6 p.m. A public reception at 4:30 p.m. will precede the ceremony.

Each year, MAC and Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) partner to record and broadcast the awards ceremony on MPB Television and MPB Radio. We are grateful for MPB’s continued support!

Television air dates:

Friday, February 16, 2024, at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, February 18, 2024, at 4:30 p.m.

Thursday, February 22, 2024, at 2:00 p.m.

Radio air date: Sunday, February 25, 2024, at 5:00 p.m. (During the Mississippi Arts Hour)

BECOME A SPONSOR

We could not honor these incredible artists without your partnership and support! The history of legacy-building contributions for this awards program is a testament to Mississippians’ resounding support for the arts. Your tax-deductible sponsorship of the Governor’s Arts Awards will show your investment in the arts throughout our state and help ensure the continuation of this event.

To sponsor the 2024 Governor’s Arts Awards, please download, fill out, and mail the PDF sponsorship form or complete the online sponsorship form through the Community Foundation for Mississippi (CFM).

Please make checks out to “Community Foundation for Mississippi” with “Fund for Excellence in the Arts” in the memo line. Please mail your check with your completed sponsorship form to the Mississippi Arts Commission • 501 North West Street • Suite 1101a • Woolfolk Building • Jackson, Mississippi 39201. CFM will send you a tax deduction form.

To be recognized on print materials, sponsorships must be made by January 4, 2024.

Sponsorship Levels

Presenting Sponsor: $10,000

  • 10 tickets to the Governor’s Arts Awards
  • 10 invitations to Governor’s Mansion VIP Reception & photo opportunity
  • Framed event poster signed by the Governor and recipients
  • Logo recognition on program and poster
  • Mention in the Executive Director’s speech during the ceremony.

Premier Partner: $5,000

  • 6 tickets to the Governor’s Arts Awards
  • 6 invitations to Governor’s Mansion VIP Reception & photo opportunity
  • Framed event poster signed by the Governor and recipients

Principal Partner: $2,500

  • 4 tickets to the Governor’s Arts Awards
  • 4 invitations to the Governor’s Mansion VIP Reception
  • Framed event poster signed by the Governor and recipients

Grand Patron: $1,500

  • 2 tickets to the Governor’s Arts Awards
  • 2 invitations to the Governor’s Mansion VIP Reception
  • Framed event poster signed by the Governor

Patron: $750

  • 2 tickets to the Governor’s Arts Awards
  • Framed event poster signed by the Governor

Donor: $500

  • 2 tickets to the Governor’s Arts Awards

*Gifts of any amount are appreciated.

For questions, contact 601-359-6030.


NOMINATE AN ARTIST OR ORGANIZATION

Each year, members of the public are invited to nominate outstanding individuals and organizations to receive a Governor’s Arts Award. Nominations for the 2024 awards closed on Monday, June 19, 2023. Nominations for the 2025 Governor’s Arts Awards will open in Spring 2024.

Who is eligible?
Artists or organizations that have made significant contributions to the arts will be considered to receive this award. Nominated artists do not have to reside in the state currently but must have significant ties to the state through some years of residency. Awards are given once; previous recipients are ineligible. Also, no posthumous nominations will be accepted. If selected, the nominee must agree to receive the award at the ceremony to be held in February 2024 in Jackson, Mississippi.

Nomination and Selection Process
Nominations open each spring. The public is encouraged to submit nominations for the Governor’s Arts Awards once the nominations are open. Once the nominations are submitted, a panel of judges, many of whom possess a deep knowledge of Mississippi’s visual and performing arts, select several of those nominated to receive a Governor’s Arts Award. 

Nomination Information

MAC is using our grants system for the nomination process this year. Utilizing this system will allow nominators to save their progress, collaborate with others, and easily re-apply if their nominee is not selected. If you are still unfamiliar with the system or need an account, the video below will walk you through creating an account.

Grant system walkthrough video.

If you have an account within the system and want to use something other than that account for your nomination, or if you are with an organization and would like to nominate someone NOT on behalf of your organization, you must create a new account with a different e-mail.

PAST AWARDEES

Download a complete listing of previous Governor’s Arts Award recipients by name (Excel spreadsheet)

2024

  • 100 Men Hall – Arts in Community
  • Earl Poole Ball – Lifetime Achievement
  • Cedric Burnside – Excellence in Music
  • Brent Funderburk – Excellence in Visual Arts and Education
  • Peter Zapletal – Excellence in Performing Arts

2023

  • Dr. Ann Fisher-Wirth – Excellence in Literature & Poetry
  • Betsy Bradley – Leadership in Visual Arts & Community
  • Ed McGowin – Lifetime Achievement
  • Ke Francis – Excellence in Visual Arts
  • King Edward Antoine – Excellence in Music
  • Ralph Eubanks – Excellence in Literature & Cultural Ambassador
  • Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation – The Stephen C. Edds Patron of the Arts Award

2022

  • Alcorn State University Jazz Festival – Arts in Community
  • Myrna Colley-Lee – Excellence in Costume Design & Arts Patron
  • Larry Gordon – Lifetime Achievement in Motion Pictures & Television
  • Holly Lange – Governor’s Choice Award
  • Mary Lovelace O’Neal – Excellence in Visual Art
  • The Williams Brothers – Lifetime Achievement in Music

2021

  • Arthur Jafa – Excellence in Media Arts
  • Nellie McInnis – Excellence in Music
  • Raphael Semmes – Cultural Ambassador
  • Tutwiler Quilters – Arts in Community
  • Jesmyn Ward – Excellence in Literature
  • Benjamin Wright – Lifetime Achievement

2020

  • Henry Danton – Lifetime Achievement in Dance
  • Steve Forbert – Excellence in Music
  • Jackson Southernaires – Lifetime Achievement in Music
  • Richard Kelso – Excellence in Visual Art
  • Tougaloo College Art Collections – Preservation of the Arts

2019

  • London Branch – Excellence in Music and Education
  • The Canton Spirituals – Lifetime Achievement
  • Ruth Miller – Excellence in Visual Arts
  • New Stage Theatre – Excellence in Theatre
  • Hartley and Mary Peavey – Governor’s Choice Award
  • James Patterson – Excellence in Photography and Community Support
  • Julia Reed – Cultural Ambassador

2018

  • Steve Azar – Governor’s Choice Award
  •  David Keary – Leadership in Performing Arts
  •  Joe Overstreet – Excellence in Visual Art
  •  V. A. Patterson – Community Arts Leader
  •  Yoknapatawpha Arts Council – Arts in Community

2017

  • William R. Ferris – Lifetime Achievement
  • Sammy Britt – Excellence in Visual Art
  • Vasti Jackson – Arts Ambassador
  • Lucy Richardson Janoush – Arts Patron
  • Jaimoe Johnie Johnson – Excellence in Music
  • Mississippi Opera – Artistic Excellence

2016

  • Tom ‘Bones’ Malone
  • Scott Barretta
  • Claudia Cartee
  • Tig Notaro
  • Dr. Tommie ‘Tonea’ Stewart

2015

  • Lane Chapel Quintet
  • Chesney Blankenstein Doyle
  • Maude Schuyler Clay
  • MSU Riley Center
  • Craig Wiseman

2014

  • Lesley Silver
  • John Maxwell
  • William Baggett
  • Jim Weatherly
  • James Cotton

2013

  • Kathryn Lewis
  • Bay St. Louis Little Theatre
  • Beth Henley
  • Eddie “Chank” Willis
  • Bobby Rush

2012

  • Althea Jerome
  • Howard Bahr
  • WellsFest
  • Carl Jackson
  • McCarty Pottery
  • Mose Allison

2011

  • Charles A. Rhoads
  • Natchez Literary & Cinema Celebration
  • Gwendolyn Magee
  • Mac McAnally
  • Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins

2010

  • Lenagene Waldrup
  • Bessie Johnson
  • Grassroots Radio Show
  • Wyatt Waters
  • David “Honeyboy” Edwards

2009

  • University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra
  • WINGS Performing Arts Program of the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center
  • Wolfe Studio
  • Cassandra Wilson
  • John Grisham
  • Andrew Bucci

2008

  • Mississippi Museum of Art
  • Emma McCain
  • Lallah Miles Perry
  • Natasha Trethewey
  • Charley Pride

2007

  • Nora Davis Magnet School
  • Viking Range Corporation
  • Sam Gilliam
  • Sam Carr
  • Bo Diddley

2006

  • Sam Myers
  • Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi
  • Bruce Levingston
  • Fletcher Cox
  • Casey Elementary School
  • Trustmark National Bank
  • Elizabeth Spencer

2005

  • Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science
  • Pearl Public School District
  • Thacker Mountain Radio
  • Gladys Kemp Lisanby
  • Sela Ward
  • Will D. Campbell

2004

  • Greenville Arts Council
  • James “Super Chikan” Johnson
  • Rankin County School District
  • Malcolm White
  • Mary Katherine Loyacono McCravey

2003

  • Dr. David Stuart Blackburn
  • Thallis Lewis
  • Charles Burnett
  • Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education
  • USA International Ballet Competition
  • William Eggleston
  • Rust College A’Cappella Choir
  • Little Milton (Campbell)

2002

  • B.B. King
  • John Paul
  • Bologna Performing Arts Center
  • Sally W. Carmichael
  • The Village of Taylor
  • Andrew Cary Young
  • William Carey College Theatre
  • Dr. Russell Thomas, Jr.
  • Stephen E. Ambrose

2001

  • Abie “Boogaloo” Ames
  • George Berry
  • Roger D. Malkin
  • Samuel Mockbee
  • Pierce Street Elementary School
  • Ronald Otto Schnell
  • Lester Senter
  • Martha Layton Richardson Tatum

2000

  • Larry Brown
  • Senator Thad Cochran
  • Crossroads Quilters
  • Sarah Gillespie
  • Hattiesburg Arts Council
  • Andrew Lark, Jr.
  • Charlie Musselwhite
  • John Palmer
  • Stewart Family Pottery

1999

  • Johnnie Billington
  • Ellen Douglas (Josephine Haxton)
  • P. Sanders McNeal
  • Mississippi State Hospital—Community Services Homeless Program
  • Museum of Southern Jewish Experience
  • Colman Pearce
  • Kenneth Quinn
  • Roebuck “Pops” Staples
  • Marty Stuart

1998

  • Beechwood Elementary School
  • Vicksburg Warren School District—For Project ABC (Arts in the Basic Curriculum)
  • The Cotton Blossom Singers of the Piney Woods School
  • Dr. David Daigeneault
  • Eastman Memorial Foundation for support of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art
  • Milt Hinton
  • Natchez Opera Festival, Inc.

1997

  • Dr. Paul E. Ballard
  • Marshall Bouldin
  • Dr. Samuel Marshall Gore
  • International Paper
  • The Knight Foundation through The Sun Herald
  • The City of Biloxi
  • The George E. Ohr Arts and Cultural Center
  • The Library of Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County
  • Malaco Records
  • Dr. Jean Simmons

1996

  • Entergy/MP&L Company
  • Morgan Freeman
  • Sid Graves
  • Lisa N. Howorth
  • Dorothy Moore
  • Dan Overly
  • University Press of Mississippi
  • Theo Inman Vaughey

1995

  • Thomas Jones Biggs
  • Shelby Foote
  • Gum Tree Festival
  • Bill Mitchell
  • William D. Mounger
  • New Stage Theatre Education Program
  • Lida Rogers
  • Billie Jean Young

1994

  • Robert Parker Adams
  • B & P Interiors, Hinds County Public Schools, and Hinds County Department of Human Services
  • Nelle DeLoach Elam
  • Keith Dockery McLean
  • Mississippi Action for Community Education/Delta Arts Project
  • Willie Morris
  • Jim Timms

1993

  • Patti Carr Black
  • Vicki Bodenhamer
  • Eleanor Ferris
  • Richard Ford
  • Thomas Somerville Howorth
  • Mississippi Educational Television Network, Mtel, USA International Ballet Competition
  • Othar Turner

1992

  • Dr. Margaret Walker Alexander
  • Walter Anderson Museum of Art, City of Ocean Springs, and Jackson County Board of Supervisors
  • Crosby Arboretum
  • Jane Reid-Petty
  • South Central Bell
  • West Tallahatchie High School
  • Mary Jayne Whittington

1991

  • Center for the Study of Southern Culture
  • Chevron USA
  • Corinth Area Arts Council
  • William Dunlap
  • Jackson Public Schools and Mississippi Symphony Orchestra
  • Ethel Wright Mohamed
  • Malcolm C. Norwood

1990

  • Stuart C. Irby, Jr.
  • Thalia Mara
  • Mississippi Cultural Crossroads and Claiborne County Board of Supervisors
  • Mississippi Mass Choir
  • Noxubee County Library
  • Starkville High School
  • Eudora Welty

1989

No award ceremony took place this year.

1988

  • The Arts Alliance of Jackson & Hinds County
  • Deposit Guaranty National Bank
  • Barry Hannah
  • City of Jackson
  • Jackson Public Schools/Academic and Performing Arts Complex Performing Arts Division
  • Jean Chisolm Lindsey
  • Leontyne Price