Thursday, March 23, 2017
JACKSON Mississippi's top political leaders announced the induction of 18 artists into the inaugural Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Hall of Fame class at the Capitol this morning.
Artists, actors and authors—both dead and alive—who are from Mississippi or have lived in the state for a significant portion of their careers were considered. Morgan Freeman, John Grisham, Oprah Winfrey and Sela Ward are among the inductees. The hall of fame will be located in the new Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience Museum located in downtown Meridian.
The museum, set to open in spring 2018, will feature a "Walk of Fame" downtown as well as a recording studio and outdoor performance venue. Taxpayers in Meridian voted to increase their food and beverage tax by 2 percent last year, Rep. Greg Snowden, R-Meridian, said in order to help fund the project.
"It's so fulfilling ... now the people that voted for it can drive by and see it springing out of the ground, "Snowden said.
Funding for the museum is mainly from private donors from around Mississippi, Snowden said, as well $29 million in bonds issued by the state Legislature.
Snowden said the museum would be good for economic development for not only Meridian but also the entire state, especially since the museum will be located just off Interstate 20. The speaker pro tempore said Meridian won a competition back in the 2000s to become the museum's site. It will be the largest museum in Meridian.
Downtown Meridian is going through several renovations and new construction projects. Rep. Charles Young, D-Meridian, whose district the new museum will be in, said his community is excited about the work being done.
"Most people never want to pay. but they always want to have all the fun, so we're about to start experiencing all the fun ... we're trying to coordinate everything with the bicentennial anniversary—so we're just excited," he told the Jackson Free Press.
The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience will induct more artists into its Hall of Fame each year going forward.
The Inaugural Class for MAX (Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience) Hall of Fame:
-James Earl Jones
-Muddy Waters (McKindley Morganfield)