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Funding For Grammy Museum in Mississippi Sought

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 28 Feb 2012 04:41pm | comments
Representative Rita Martinson questions Allen Hammons.

A Mississippi delta town could be home to just the second Grammy music museum in the country, if state law makers agree to issue 6-million dollars in bond money to help fund it. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that advocates say the museum would tell the story of Mississippi's rich musical heritage.

While Mississippi makes up less than one-percent of the population of America, 8-percent of all life time achievement Grammy winners, like blue great B.B. King, are Mississippians.

Allan Hammons is leading the effort to build a Grammy Music Museum in Cleveland, Mississippi because he says that the history of music in the magnolia state is going untold.

"If you look at blues, one of original musical art forms in America, it was born in Mississippi. Country music, Jimmy Rodgers, born in Mississippi. Rock and Roll, Bo Diddley and Elvis Presley, born in Mississippi. I told you the story about Betty Everett who was a great talented songstress who grew up in my home town of Greenwood. We were listening to her songs and didn't have a clue that she was from our own home town. That is just how disconnected, in some ways, we have been from the story of Mississippi music," Hammon said.

There is currently only one Grammy museum which is located in Los Angeles.

If built, the Clevelandmuseum would be just the second Grammy Museum in the country.

Museum backers are asking the state for 6-million dollars to round out the funding for the museum.

Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell says the remainder of the money, about 9-million dollars, would come from the city, county and private donations.

"We've raised about 4-and-a-half million dollars and I feel like in a six month period we will have probably 6 or 7 million dollars locally. Our town is a very giving town and a very forward town and I feel like we will easily raising the money," Nowell said.

Issuing bonds, which adds to the state's debt, is a controversial topic for many in the Mississippi legislature.....but House Ways and Means chairman Jeff Smith of Columbus says the local involvement could make law makers more open to issuing the money.

"We don't mind partnering as a state with a local community and some private sources. When I heard that and I heard we could do it in two stages or two phases, I think that is something we can do in this state," Smith said.

Early plans are to build the museum on the campus of Delta State University.

Museum advocates say the facility can be open for business within two years if the state approves the funding.

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Representative Rita Martinson questions Allen Hammons.


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