Rising Stars

From Mississippi came the Delta Blues, Rock ‘N Roll, Country Music, the International Ballet Competition, as well as Oscar and Emmy winning actors, Pulitzer Prize winning authors, composers, playwrights and visual artists that have exhibited around the world, and a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

In fact, in 2014 two Mississippians were awarded the Pulitzer Prize: Donna Tartt for The Goldfinch and John Luther Adams for his orchestra composition Become Ocean.  Natasha Trethewey, another Mississippi winner of a Pulitzer Prize, was appointed and served United States Poet Laureate in 2012 through 2014.

On the heels of these stories are many others that have yet to be told. THE MAX is proud to highlight some of Mississippi’s brightest up-and-coming stars in every area of the arts, and the organizations that help to encourage and support them.

Dr. Alphonso Sanders is the Chair of Fine Arts and Director of the BB King Recording Studio at Mississippi Valley State University. He received degrees in music from Mississippi Valley State University, Valdosta State University, and the University of Mississippi. Dr. Sanders has performed at many recognized festivals including the Netherlands North Sea Jazz Festival; Montreux Switzerland Jazz...

Dexter Allen

Dexter Allen was born in Crystal Springs Mississippi and raised on a farm. He grew up understanding that life can still be wholesome with only the bare necessities. His father being a pastor and grandfather a head deacon, the church was no stranger. Dexter began playing guitar at the age of 10, being tutored by his Uncle Porter and...

Scott Albert Johnson

Born in St. Louis and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Scott Albert Johnson was bathed in the wide range of the American songbook, as well as the sounds of his 1970’s and 80’s childhood. The soul and spirit of that diversity is at the core of his new album, Going Somewhere. Johnson incorporates elements of rock, jazz, blues, funk, country,...

Chuck Galey

Chuck Galey has drawn all his life. “I had everything I needed growing up in a small farm town in the Mississippi Delta; a pencil, a piece of paper and a long-winded Baptist preacher.” He has illustrated over seventy educational books and ten children’s picture books, one that he authored. When he is not working on books in his studio in...

Charlotte Smelser

Charlotte Smelser, Director of Arts Education at the Mississippi Arts Commission, is positioned to provide support for arts education and arts in education across Mississippi. She focuses on assisting arts educators in telling the powerful story of their work – both in the classroom and in the community. With a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Education from Shorter...

Chalmers Davis

Chalmers Davis, a native of Jackson, Ms. started playing the piano at the age of 5. His studio experience began with the North American Recording Studio Rhythm Section and Malaco Records in Jackson. Since then, his musical travels have taken him through all 50 U.S. states and to France, United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark,...

Roger Stolle

Through my seven or so years of visiting Mississippi from St. Louis, I slowly zeroed in on Clarksdale as the center of it all — both past and present. The buildings, museums and history were all here. The problem was that the downtown business district was in the throes of death, and the live blues was only maybe two...

H.C. Porter

You have to find your own line, and to do that, it takes the act of creating. Through that process you can be inspired by other artists, by the environment around you, but ultimately to know where you are going as an artist, you have to find your own starting place. You can't copy someone else's work.

Philip Shirley

Since his first appearance in print--a poem in a literary journal thirty years ago--Philip Shirley has been published more than 100 times. His award-winning writing includes fiction, poetry, criticism, feature articles, speeches and business articles in a wide variety of magazines, newspapers and books. His latest publication is a novel, The White Lie, which was released in July 2014...

Kathy & Keith Thibodeaux

Almost forty years ago, Kathy and Keith met through a mutual friend who was related to a band member of David and the Giants.Though born in Memphis, TN, Kathy Thibodeaux spent most of her life training and living in Jackson, MS. In 1982, Kathy won a silver medal at the II USA International Ballet Competition. Keith Thibodeaux is the...

Ken Davies

Ken Davies' composed works include acoustic and electronic pieces ranging from songs and chamber music to orchestral and choral works that have been performed nationally at prestigious new music festivals sponsored by academically esteemed organizations like Society of Composers, Southeastern Composers League, Electronic Music Midwest, Electroacoustic Barn Dance, Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers, Parma Music Festival, National Association...

Bradley Gordon

Born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Bradley Gordon studied at The University of Mississippi was a resident artist at Scall Art Studios in Taichung City, Taiwan (2006). After returning from a year in Narita, Japan where he actively pursued his two loves of painting and music, he moved home to the Mississippi Delta to pursue painting as a career (2010)....

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