On Thursday, Gov. Phil Bryant announced Marty Stuart will headline the Governor’s Concert at the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration North in Oxford this summer.
Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, Mayor Pat Patterson and Mississippi’s own country music star Steve Azar joined Bryant on the Rowan Oak front lawn to unveil the city’s plans for Mississippi’s 200th birthday. Eight members of the Ole Miss Columns Society ushered the crowd of Oxonians through the trees to their seats Thursday afternoon.
The governor is planning events across the state to honor Mississippi’s bicentennial and said Oxford is a perfect spot for the summer concert.
“Billy Faulkner would be proud to know we’re going to throw a big party here in Oxford,” Bryant said.
He invited locals and students alike to the Ford Center on June 24 for a free celebration of Mississippi’s music. Mac McAnally, Steve Azar, Shannon McNally and Philadelphia native Marty Stuart will perform that night after a showcase of the state’s musical heritage by Jay Dean, executive director of the Arts Institute of Mississippi.
Before revealing which Mississippi musicians would be performing at the Ford Center this summer, Bryant spoke about the past that has made Mississippi the richly cultured state it is today.
“The difficult years, the challenging years left an undeniable mark on the state of Mississippi,” Bryant said.
Visit Mississippi director Craig Ray led the event at Rowan Oak. He thanked local members of the Oxford Board of Aldermen and university staff for their help in organizing the summer concert.
“By hosting these bicentennial events in three major regions of the state, we are able to celebrate with our towns and communities and showcase what makes Mississippi truly great,” Ray said.
Bryant praised north Mississippi’s literary and musical tradition and said Oxford serves as the perfect backdrop for the bicentennial celebration.
“It all began here,” Bryant said. “This is a very special and unique place.”
Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and Mayor Pat Patterson welcomed the governor to town and uncovered the poster for the summer concert together. Vitter said he is excited about the chance to host these events and hopes he sees students there in the audience.
“It’s an opportunity to showcase the Lafayette-Oxford-University community and how much we contribute to the state and how much the state contributes to us,” Vitter said.
In the Rowan Oak shade, Steve Azar debuted a new song written for everyone in every part of the state of Mississippi. “That’s Mississippi” highlights the sights, smells and sounds of life in Mississippi.
“I tried to not leave anybody out,” Azar said.
Bryant also announced that on Dec. 9, Jackson will host bicentennial events during the grand opening of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
All official events as part of the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration are free and open to the public. The Governor’s Concert is free but requires a ticket for admission, which can be reserved online.
“Two hundred years ago,” Bryant said. “Before there was a Texas, before there was a Florida, a California, there was a Mississippi.”