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Governor’s Awards: 2012 Recipients

Arts in Education

Althea Jerome

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Over the past 35 years, Althea Jerome has served the state of Mississippi and beyond as a leader in arts education.  The distinguishing characteristics of her career are excellence, leadership, and service.  Her work in the Hattiesburg Public Schools was based on the belief that all children can become successful music-makers when their teacher maintains high expectations.  While working in elementary schools, her students sang and played for state music conferences and for local businesses,  offering approximately 340 public performances.  From 1984-1999, her students in the Hattiesburg Children’s Chorus performed in All-State choirs and for local, state and national choral music conferences.  Since 2000, Althea has worked in teacher education at University of Southern Mississippi and as a teaching artist.  She has modeled arts experiences in classrooms, and in the last four years, she has conducted 135 professional development workshops for teachers and administrators, or multiple-day artist residencies throughout Mississippi. In addition to having an impact on teachers and students, Althea has an extensive record of service and leadership in arts organizations.  She served as a board member of the Mississippi Music Educators Association for 22 years; American Choral Director’s Association for 15 years; and Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera for 20 years.  She was invited to serve on the committee to reorganize the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education in 1989, and has remained an active officer and board member.  Althea is extremely driven in her work as a teaching artist and brings great enthusiasm to the goal of providing high-quality arts education experiences to the students of our state.

Nominated by Penny Wallin, Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education


Arts in Community


Jackson, Mississippi

Known as Jackson’s original music festival, WellsFest is much more than just music…its ripple effects radiate well past Jackson’s city limits.  From humble beginnings rooted in generous hearts, WellsFest has grown through the years to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars which benefit locally based non-profit organizations through the presentation and promotion of the arts.  WellsFest began in 1984 as a gift to the community with the primary mission to offer family-oriented fun in a drug and alcohol-free environment.  Over the last 27 years, all ages, races, and walks of life have come together to celebrate the music of well-seasoned, as well as up and coming musicians spanning numerous genres.  In addition to musicians, WellsFest builds symbiotic relationships with many talented, generous visual artists of various mediums and levels of expertise through a live arts auction that contributes significantly to the proceeds.  The majority of the funds raised result from community support and the hard work of volunteers in other festival areas:  silent auction, coffee house, food, children’s area, pet parade, plant sale, craft fair, and a 5k run and 1k fun-run/walk.  Each year, 100% of WellsFest proceeds are donated to a worthy non-profit organization that has outlined how it will best utilize the projected funds.  During its history, WellsFest proceeds have been donated to diverse causes benefiting everyone from homeless youth, hospice patients, adoptive children, HIV/AIDS patients, recovering addicts, as well as many other segments of our society that need support.

Nominated by Stephanie & Ken Hodges

Excellence in Visual Art

McCarty Pottery

Merigold, Mississippi

McCarty Pottery and its creators, Lee and Pup McCarty, are quite simply, legendary.  Both native Mississippians, they began creating their artistic life in tiny Merigold, Mississippi, in 1954.  They turned a mule barn and empty lot into a charming house and lovely garden that is now a thriving business that attracts customers from all over the world.  Along the way, they crafted together a full and extraordinary life, making do with what they had….and what they made was magic.  The pottery, while inventive and sometimes fanciful in design, is clearly meant to be used.  It has style and substance, as well as a certain quality of permanence.  A traditional Mississippi Delta wedding gift, a piece of McCarty is at home serving grits or crawfish, filled with flowers, or as a work of art on display.  And though it has always been made of native Mississippi clay and many of the pieces feature a squiggly black line to signify the River, the pottery quickly traveled as the McCartys themselves became famous, finding its way not only to the city tables of displaced Delta natives, but to be included in the collection of the Smithsonian.  The other artistic triumph of the McCarty’s life is their enclosed garden in Merigold.  The gardens were laid out by Lee in geometric designs and feature a vast variety of native plants.  These gardens are now being documented by the Greenville Garden Club for the Smithsonian Institution as part of a national project of the Garden Club of America.

Nominated by the Greenville Garden Club


Excellence in Music

Carl Jackson

Of Louisville, Mississippi

Now resides in Gallatin, Tennessee

Carl Jackson has been called a musician’s musician.  Not only has he garnered honors for his song writing and performance skills, he is also one of the most highly acclaimed studio musicians in Nashville, and has become one of the most sought-after producers.

A world-class guitar and banjo player, Jackson’s honors and accolades speak volumes.  In 1967 at the age of 14, he appeared on the Grand Ole Opry with the renowned Virginia Boys.  Soon afterwards, he was discovered by legendary Glen Campbell.  Jackson’s “Little Mountain Church House” was voted the 1990 International Bluegrass Music Association song of the year.  In 1992, Carl was awarded his first Grammy for his album “Spring Training.”  Jackson’s ballad, “No Future in the Past” was recorded by Vince Gill, and it was named song of the year for 1993.  In 2003, his album “Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’ – Songs of the Louvin Brothers” won two Grammy Awards for Country Album of the Year, and the project’s duet featuring James Taylor and Alison Krauss won the Grammy for vocal collaboration of the year.  Jackson has also won a Dove Award, numerous writers’ awards and in 2006 was inducted into the Mississippi Musician’s Hall of Fame.  Since his days in Mississippi 30 some odd years ago, two-time SPBGMA songwriter of the year, Carl Jackson, has realized many of his dreams. But with each dream that becomes a reality, a new dream lies ahead.

Nominated by Senator Giles Ward and Congressman Greg Harper

Excellence in Literature

Howard Bahr

Jackson, Mississippi

Howard Bahr was born August 3, 1946, at Meridian, Mississippi. From 1964 to 1968, he served as a gunner’s mate in the U.S. Navy, participating in coastal and amphibious operations in Vietnam and the Western Pacific. After Naval service, he worked as a brakeman and yard clerk on several railroads in the South and Midwest. In 1973 he entered the University of Mississippi where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in English and History (1977) and a Master’s Degree in English (1980). He completed the coursework and examinations for a doctorate, but withdrew without completing a dissertation. From 1976 to 1993, he was on the staff at Rowan Oak, the home of William Faulkner, serving as curator from 1982 to 1993. Also during this time, he was an instructor of literature at the University of Mississippi. In August, 1993, he went to Motlow State Community College in Lynchburg, Tennessee, where he was Professor of English until September 2006. Bahr has published in various magazines and journals including Southern Living, Civil War Times Illustrated, The Oxford American, and The Saturday Evening Post. He is the author of The Black Flower (Nautical & Aviation Press, 1997), The Year of Jubilo (Henry Holt, 2000), The Judas Field (Henry Holt, 2006), Pelican Road (MacAdam/Cage, 2008) and a children’s book, Home for Christmas (N&A, 1997). He resides in Jackson, Mississippi, and teaches English and Creative Writing at Belhaven University.

Nominated by George Thatcher


Lifetime Achievement

Mose Allison

of Tippo, Mississippi

Now resides in Long Island, New York

Mose Allison was born in the Mississippi Delta on his grandfather’s farm near the village of Tippo. At five he discovered he could play the piano by ear and began “picking out” blues and boogie tunes he heard on the local jukebox. In high school he listened to the music of Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan, and his prime inspiration, Nat Cole of the King Cole Trio. He played trumpet in the marching and dance bands and started writing his own songs.  After a year at the University of Mississippi, he went to the Army in l946, playing in the Army Band in Colorado Springs and performing with accomplished musicians from around the country in small groups at NCO and Officer’s clubs. Returning to Ole Miss he joined the dance band as arranger, piano and trumpet player, but shortly left to form his own trio, playing piano and singing in a style influenced by Nat Cole, Louis Jordan and Erroll Garner.  In 1957 he secured his own first recording contract with Prestige Records, recording Back Country Suite, a collection of pieces evoking the Mississippi Delta, released to unanimous critical acclaim. Mose went on to play and record with jazz greats Stan Getz, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims and Gerry Mulligan as well as with his own Mose Allison Trio.  Mose continues to write and perform all over the world. His songs have been covered by Van Morrison, John Mayall, The Who, The Clash, Eric Clapton, the Yardbirds, Elvis Costello and Bonnie Raitt to name a few. Van Morrison recorded a tribute album, Tell Me Something, The Songs of Mose Allison, on Verve Records, and rockers like Pete Townshend, Bonnie Raitt, Ray Davies and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones have frequently cited Mose Allison as a major influence.


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