Published on May 21st, 2019 | by TLV News0
Mississippi Arts Commission to Hold Traditional Music Showcase During May Art Crawl
This May, the Oxford Art Crawl is celebrating Mississippi’s contribution to the arts. With this in mind, The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) partnered with the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council (YAC) to present a concert celebrating two genres belonging to Mississippi’s diverse musical legacy: the Blues and West African drumming. The concert will feature performances from three accomplished musicians including the Bentonia Bluesman, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes; fife player and vocalist Sharde Thomas; and Baba Asante Nalls, master djembe drummer of the Mali tradition. Join the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council for an evening of art and music from 6–8 pm at The Powerhouse (413 S 14th Street in Oxford) on Tuesday, May 28.
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Sharde Thomas, and Baba Asante Nalls have each made significant strides throughout their careers to continue Mississippi’s rich musical heritage. In addition, Holmes, Thomas, and Nalls have previously participated in MAC’s Folk and Traditional Arts grants program as recipients of the Folk Arts Fellowship Award or as participants in the Folk Arts Apprenticeship program. These programs provide support to artists and musicians who create art that is steeped in community and tradition and artists who have a passion to pass down their skills to the next generation.
Baba Asante Nalls………………6–6:30 pm
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes………….6:45–7:15 pm
Sharde Thomas…………………7:30–8 pm
This event is sponsored in part by the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Admission is free and open to the public.
Baba Asante Nalls is a djembefola (master drummer) of the Mali tradition, school of Abdouli Diakité. He has been working as a professional djembeist and musician for over 40 years. He learned traditional Mali rhythms, songs, dance, and folklore from several international master drummers, including members from the National Dance Company of Senegal, Le Ballet Africains, and the Guinea Ballet. He also worked as a professional djembist with several African dance companies in Chicago. His mission is to keep the rich culture of the djembe drum family alive, and he brings a wealth of knowledge to Mississippi.
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes is the embodiment of raw country blues and is regarded as the last of the Bentonia Bluesmen. Holmes is the last person taught to play the blues by Henry Stuckey, the man who taught Skip James and Jack Owens, and his music evokes the dry, ghostly sounds of his mentors. He is a celebrated and award-winning country blues musician who has released several award-winning CDs. His first CD, Back to Bentonia, won the Living Blues award for Best Debut and Best Acoustic Blues Album of the Year for 2006. Holmes’ music has been described as “imbued with earthy beauty” by Blues in Britain magazine, “ethereal, stark and
emotional” by blues author Robert Gordon, and “dark and emotionally honest” by Blues Review magazine.
Sharde Thomas learned to play the fife from her grandfather, Otha Turner. He was the founder of the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band in the early 1960s. Thomas started managing the band in 2013 and became the fife player and the lead vocalist of the band. The Rising Stars perform a mixture of Pop, Blues, Country, Folk, and Gospel music. They have worked with Eric Clapton, Mavis Staples, Cyndi Lauper, Bobby Rush, and many others. Thomas has released three albums and has been nominated for two Grammys. Her first album with the Rising Star Fife & Drum band is titled The Interlude and was released in 2016.