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The MAX Reveals New Hall of Fame Members

The MAX Reveals New Hall of Fame Members at State Capitol

Five Legendary Mississippians Honored as 2024 Inductees


JACKSON (February 7, 2024) – The Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience (The MAX), an immersive museum highlighting legends in various art fields, announced five new inductees to its Hall of Fame. The new honorees are documentarian and author William “Bill” Ferris, historian and novelist Shelby Foote, poet Natasha Trethewey, and a pair of singer-songwriters, Bobbie Gentry and Mac McAnally.


MAX President and CEO Penny Kemp made the announcement in the State Capitol Rotunda. The event was part of “Arts Week at the Capitol, " which highlighted the efforts of the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education, and other arts organizations.


“This fifth class of Hall of Fame inductees illustrates our state’s remarkable creative output,” said Kemp, a veteran marketing professional and arts advocate who assumed her MAX leadership role in December.


“From writings about Civil War history and social change to hit-list songs and Blues documentation, the works of these individuals warrant celebration,” she said. “We welcome residents, educators, and visitors to Mississippi to The MAX to learn more about our state’s disproportionate contribution to arts and entertainment. From our tremendous impact on music and writing to all variations of performing arts, visual and culinary arts, The MAX tells the story of Mississippi’s creative legacy while inspiring future creatives.”


The five inductees will bring to 38 the number of stars featured in the state-sanctioned Hall of Fame, the centerpiece of the museum, which opened nearly six years ago in historic downtown Meridian.


The installation of high-profile images of new honorees, as well as the addition of biographical details in interactive stations, will occur in the coming year in preparation for a formal induction ceremony on Jan. 23, 2025, at the MSU Riley Center in historic downtown Meridian.


The latest Hall of Fame class represents several art disciplines and various regions of Mississippi. Selected by a panel of independent advisors in combination with a public online vote, all but one inductee, Shelby Foote, are still living.

· Ferris, an author, photographer and longtime college professor, has written or produced books, documentaries and recordings that explore Blues music, African-American folklore, and life experiences of southern writers. He was born in 1942. A native of Vicksburg who grew up on a nearby farm, Ferris co-edited the Pulitzer Prize-nominee Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, published in 1989. He is a former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. A collection of his documentary recordings and an accompanying book won Grammy Awards.

· Greenville native Foote (1916-2005), a historian and fiction writer, spent decades researching and writing the acclaimed three-book series The Civil War: A Narrative. He gained fame as a result of his commentary in an immensely popular Ken Burns PBS documentary on the Civil War, which aired in 1990. Foote’s other books include Shiloh, a re-creation of the epic Civil War battle, and a series of novels set in a fictional Mississippi Delta town.

· The singer-songwriter Gentry, who grabbed international attention in 1967 with a haunting hit single, “Ode to Billie Joe,” was born Roberta Lee Streeter in the Woodland area, in Chickasaw County, in 1942. A film character inspired her adoption of the Bobbie Gentry stage name. Drawn to musical instruments and songwriting as a young child, Gentry released a series of albums on Capitol Records, including one with Glen Campbell, and appeared in television specials. She won multiple Grammy and Academy of Country Music awards.

· The singer, songwriter, and producer Mac McAnally (born Lyman Corbitt McAnally Jr.) is widely known as a guitarist in Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band, but released more than a dozen albums of his own. He wrote hit songs recorded by country music acts ranging from Kenny Chesney (“Back Where I Come From”) to Alabama (“Old Flame”). Born in Red Bay, Alabama in 1957, McAnally grew up in Belmont, Mississippi, where he sang and played piano in church. The Country Music Association repeatedly named him Musician of the Year.

· Trethewey, a former Poet Laureate for the United States and Mississippi, has used her poetry to explore issues of race and Deep South culture. A longtime creative writing professor, she was born in Gulfport in 1966. Trethewey won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 2007 for Native Guard, which explores the story of a Black Union Army unit, comprised of former slaves, on Ship Island off the Mississippi coast. Years earlier her poetry collection, Domestic Work, received the Cave Canum Prize, honoring the first published book by a Black poet.


The Hall of Fame visitor experience is enhanced by the museum’s interactive exhibits and special offerings such as “America At The Crossroads,” which explores the evolution and cultural impact of the guitar in America. Produced by the National GUITAR Museum, the traveling exhibit (with related MAX artifacts) will be open Feb. 10-May 11, 2024, in a gallery adjacent to the Hall of Fame.


1 Comment

Feb 08

EXCELLENT group of inspirational artists!!!

Mississippi is fortunate to have a place such as the MAEX to showcase our many great artists!!!



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