The Student Activities Association’s annual welcome back concert set for 8 p.m. Friday in the Grove features the American Authors and Ole Miss alumnus Sam Mooney.
“The SAA is excited to host both American Authors and Sam Mooney in the Grove on Friday night,” Director of SAA Rosa Salas said. “Starting in late spring and early summer, the SAA began planning for the concert by nailing down a date and selecting an artist.”
The American Authors is a pop-rock band, known for its hit single “Best Day of My Life,” which spent months on the Billboard Hot 100 chart after its 2014 release. Based out of New York City, the four-piece group’s most recent album is 2016’s “What We Live For.”
Mooney will join The American Authors in the Grove for Friday’s concert. Mooney has played at numerous events on campus, including at a summer 2018 show in the Grove, where he played songs from his album “Find My Way.”
“It’s always super exciting to get to play a show at Ole Miss,” Mooney said. “So much of the music I’ve written in recent years was inspired here, so it’s really special to get to play the songs in the place where a lot of them began.”
This year’s event comes after the controversy surrounding the 2017 welcome concert artist, well-known rapper Wiz Khalifa.
Known for songs such as “See You Again” and “We Dem Boyz,” Khalifa was a popular choice among students. However, alumni voiced concern about the university allowing Khalifa to perform on campus because of the content of some of his songs and videos.
One of these voices was that of prominent alumnus Ed Meek, who wrote a Facebook post urging people to tell the university to cancel Khalifa’s concert. The post was met with mixed reactions from both alumni and current students.
“Wiz’s music touts abuse of women (and) minorities by using the ‘N-word’ and clearly promotes drug abuse,” Meek said in a 2017 interview with The Daily Mississippian.
Despite the controversy, the concert — which many students attended and enjoyed — went forward as planned.
“Although I am not a self-proclaimed fan of Wiz Khalifa, I did enjoy the concert last year,” sophomore international studies major Tori Gallegos said. “It was a really fun atmosphere, and it felt really cool to have a private concert with such a well-known artist.”
Other students enjoyed the concert but agreed with alumni that some of Khalifa’s views violate the University Creed.
“The concert was a fun event, but the values of the University of Mississippi are conveyed through the Creed,” sophomore biomedical engineering major Johnny Yang said. “When directly regarding Wiz Khalifa’s views on women, I would say they violate some tenants of the Creed — specifically the line that says, ‘I believe in respect for the dignity of each person.’”
Regardless of the pushback regarding the previous concert, planners of the 2018 event, as well as university students, are looking forward to welcoming American Authors.
“This year’s selection, American Authors, is definitely a different type of music,” Gallegos said. “It’ll definitely be a different kind of vibe, but I’m really looking forward to it and am excited that it’ll be in the Grove.”
As the first week of class ends, SAA members see the concert as a way to bring new and familiar faces back together again— all while appealing to different students’ tastes. Past concerts have welcomed artists from Dierks Bentley to Jason Mraz.
“During students’ time at Ole Miss, we aim to appeal to their musical taste with our popular outdoor concerts,” Salas said. “We have been very successful in hosting concerts in the Grove, and we feel that this concert will be no different. Regardless of what type of music is played at our Grove concerts, there’s something extremely special about hanging out with your friends and listening to music in the heart of the most beautiful campus in the country.”