In April 2022, the University of Mississippi’s Department of Music awarded the late Jim Weatherly the first Medal for the Arts.
On April 20 this year, the list of awardees will expand to include Glen Ballard.
The Medal for the Arts is a product of the university’s desire to honor the legacy of artists who have ties to the Oxford community. Despite the setbacks brought about by COVID-19, Professor and Chair of the University’s Department of Music Nancy Maria Balach collaborated with the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Associate Director of Development Brady Bramlett to bring this idea to fruition.
While described as an awards ceremony, Balach also dubs it a “celebration.”
“With this medal we wanted to appropriately and properly award artistic achievements,” Bramlett said.
Ballard graduated from Ole Miss in 1975 with a triple major and departed for California shortly after in pursuit of a career in music. After quickly getting a job at Sunset Sound Recordings, Ballard’s career kicked off.
He went on to win six Grammy Awards, including one for producing Alanis Morissette’s 1995 Album of the Year “Jagged Little Pill,” and garnered an Academy Award nomination for his work on the song “Believe” from “The Polar Express.” More recently, his work has extended into the realm of theater, including the highly anticipated “Back to the Future Musical” which will head to Broadway over the summer.
He has also served as a producer and songwriter for countless iconic artists.
“Glen is the epitome of collaboration,” Bramlett said.
Balach describes Ballard as “a renaissance man,” someone who is artistically gifted but also highly appreciative of what art has to offer to the public.
Ballard now lives in Los Angeles. Balach and Bramlett visited him there last August in preparation for his award.
“Glen was ecstatic to come back to work with Oxford,” Balach said.
In addition to being awarded the Medal for the Arts, Ballard will host a series of master classes that began on Wednesday, April 19, and will conclude on Friday, April 21.
The Living Music Resource held a live event with Ballard on Wednesday at the Ford Studio Theatre.
The award ceremony will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20, at the Gertrude C. Ford Center.
There will be performances by Ballard, Brady Bramlett and Addie Pratt, among others.