2022 Hall of Fame Inductees
The MAX Hall of Fame inducts five artists every two years from the genres it represents - cultural arts, music, performing arts, visual arts, and literature. The induction ceremony honoring the following will take place on Thursday, December 15, 2022, at The MAX and the MSU Riley Center in Meridian.
The 2022 Hall of Fame Class consists of Sam Cooke, a musician from Clarksdale; W.C. Handy, a musician from Clarksdale; Marty Stuart, a musician from Philadelphia; Alice Walker, a writer from Jackson; and Ida B. Wells, a writer from Holly Springs.
Sam Cooke, Musician
January 22, 1931-December 11, 1964
Sam Cooke was a trailblazing recording artist who helped shape the soul and pop scene with hits like "Cupid," "Chain Gang," and "Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha." Forging a link between soul and pop, Cooke had a diverse repertoire that attracted both black and white audiences.
Born in Clarksdale Mississippi, Cooke grew up in Chicago as the son of a minister. In 1948, just out of high school, he joined the gospel group the Soul Stirrers, and six years later began to branch out into secular music.
Cooke released his first number one single, "You Send Me," in 1957 and continued to top the charts with hits like "Wonderful World," "Twistin' the Night Away," "Bring It on Home to Me," and "A Change is Gonna Come" (released posthumously). He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Cooke died in 1964 and left behind a tremendous musical legacy.
W.C. Handy, Musician
Clarksdale, Mississippi/Florence, Alabama
November 16, 1873-March 28, 1958
William Christopher Handy was an African American composer and a leader in popularizing blues music in the early 20th century.
Handy's contributions in shaping what would be called the blues were influenced by the African American musical folk traditions that he experienced during his travels and performances. After years on the road, Handy settled in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in 1903, where he immersed himself in the local variation of the blues.
After a move to Memphis, Handy wrote and published the first commercially successful blues song, "Memphis Blues," in 1912, followed by his most famous composition, "The St. Louis Blues," in 1914. He worked steadily in the '20s, '30s, and '40s, promoting the blues, composing dozens of songs, and authoring an autobiography.
He is often referred to as the Father of the Blues. His legacy lives on through the annual W.C. Handy Music Festival in Florence, Alabama.
Marty Stuart, Musician
September 30, 1958
Grammy Award-winning country music artist Stuart got his start performing with Lester Flatt and Johnny Cash before launching a successful solo career.
One of country music's most versatile musicians, Stuart is an eclectic artist, moving among honky-tonk, rockabilly, country rock, traditional country, western music, gospel, and bluegrass. He easily balances the various sides of his musicality, with his love of country music's past and present serving as a common bond.
Throughout his career, Stuart has performed and recorded with a litany of artists - Earl Scruggs, Travis Tritt, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and B.B. King, to name just a few.
Stuart is an accomplished photographer and an avid collector of country music memorabilia. He has won Grammy Awards and CMA Awards and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2021. Stuart currently tours with his band, The Fabulous Superlatives.
Alice Walker, Writer
Jackson, Mississippi / Eatonton, Georgia
February 9, 1944
Born to sharecropper parents in Eatonton, Georgia, Walker is a novelist, essayist, poet, and activist. Her works focus on African American culture, and particularly on women.
After graduation from Sarah Lawrence College, Walker moved to Jackson, Mississippi and became involved in the civil rights movement. She accepted a teaching position at Jackson State University and a writer-in-residence position at Tougaloo College and remained in Mississippi until 1971.
Walker's career as a writer took off with the publication of The Color Purple. The novel won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was adapted for the big screen, garnering 11 Academy Award nominations. She has received multiple other awards including a National Book Award for Fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the LennonOno Grant for Peace.
Her commitment to important causes and her talent as a gifted writer have placed her among an elite group of legendary authors of our time.
Ida B. Wells, Writer
Holly Springs, Mississippi
July 16, 1862-March 25, 1931
Ida B. Wells was an African American journalist, abolitionist, and feminist who led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890s.
James Wells, her father, helped start Shaw University (now Rust College), a school for newly freed enslaved people in Holly Springs, Mississippi. It was at Shaw that Wells received her early education.
Wells wrote about race and politics in the South while working as a journalist and publisher. A lynching in Memphis in 1892 led her to begin an anti-lynching campaign. She researched and reported on lynchings, published an examination of lynchings in America, and led a protest in Washington, D.C., calling for reforms. She helped establish several civil rights and women's rights organizations, including the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs and the NAACP.
In 2020, Wells was awarded a Pulitzer Special Citation "for her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching."
Wells left a legacy of social and political heroism - she fought against prejudice, no matter what potential dangers she faced.