DMI Represented at MS Songwriters’ Festival


Tricia Walker performing at Tom's Extreme Pizzeria in Ocean Springs, MS for the MS Songwriter's Festival.
Tricia Walker performing at Tom’s Extreme Pizzeria in Ocean Springs, MS for the MS Songwriters’ Festival.

Last weekend, the DMI had some great representation at the 7th Annual Mississippi Songwriters’ Festival (September 15-18) in Ocean Springs, MS.  Four DMI students (Brennan Barham, Kailey Mathis, Carrie Lynn Stanford and Jessica Faith Wishard) and one professor (Tricia Walker) made the trek to the coast for the festival.

The four students played “in a round” together, performing their original songs and lending their voices and instruments on each others’ songs.  They performed three sets throughout the weekend: one on Friday night, the youth showcase on Saturday, and a late show on Saturday night.  Tricia Walker rocked the house on Friday night with Blue Mother Tupelo, and then again on Saturday with Sean Gasaway and Michael Garvin (Grammy Nominee with over 100 chart hits, including “Waiting For Tonight,” a hit for Jennifer Lopez).

(Left-Right) Carrie Lynn Stanford, Brennan Barham, Kailey Mathis, and Jessica Faith Wishard performing at the MS Songwriter's Festival.
(Left-Right) Carrie Lynn Stanford, Brennan Barham, Kailey Mathis, and Jessica Faith Wishard performing at the MS Songwriters’ Festival.

The Mississippi Songwriter’s Festival originated as a way to recognize and celebrate the works of songwriters and includes local, regional, and national talent. Several venues in downtown Ocean Springs host numerous shows each day, during which songwriters describe and perform their songs onstage before a captive audience.  Since its inception in September of 2010, the festival has grown to include local, regional, and national talent, as well as 15-20 professional songwriters. (



Welcome Back!

Let the 2016-17 school year begin…

Here’s a belated “welcome back, everyone!”  We’re excited to start a new, record-breaking year at the Delta Music Institute: for the first time, we can boast over 100 majors.

Twenty-two of our freshman attended the third “DMI Boot Camp,” a 3-day, department-specific “orientation” for new students the week before classes begin.  Delta State faculty/staff were present at several daytime sessions about subjects ranging from health and counseling to student success and OIT, and several junior/senior DMI counsellors led the freshman in icebreakers and “get-to-know-you” games in the evenings.

The Women in the Round at Delta Meat Market (Photo: Rory Doyle)
The Women in the Round at Delta Meat Market (Photo: Rory Doyle)

To start the year off in tune, the original Women in the Round turned Delta Meat Market into the Bluebird Cafe.  Our very own Tricia Walker and her friends Ashley Cleveland, Karen Staley, and Pam Tillis formed the first female “in the round” group in 1988 at Nashville’s preeminent listening room, the 90-seat Bluebird Cafe.  (“In the round” performances consist of songwriters sitting in circle in the center of the room, taking turns performing and sharing the stories behind their original songs.)

The Women in the Round brought their show south to benefit the DMI program.  Two performances were held on August 23rd at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., and several DMI students were enlisted as production assistants, hostesses, and sound engineers.  

Thanks to the hard work of many and the success of last year’s Levitt AMP Cleveland Music Series, Cleveland received the grant once again to host 10 free concerts on the Green Space this fall.  The first concert (8/31) featured Southern Komfort Brass Band, a fresh mix  of funk, jazz, dance, rock, hip-hop, and sacred music. 

Southern Komfort Brass Band, 8/31. (Photo by Rory Doyle)
Southern Komfort Brass Band, 8/31. (Photo by Rory Doyle)

Thirty minutes before the second concert (9/8), heavy rain caused a change of time and location for the Taylor Henry show.  Thanks to the kind folks at Hey Joe’s and our hard-working production team, we able to set up there and the show went on.  This week’s concert features Chambless & Muse, a duo performing Irish, Scottish, and early American tunes.  For more information on the Levitt AMP Cleveland Music Series and a schedule of events, visit:

Next week marks the first DMI All Access of the semester, beginning on September 20th at 6 p.m.  This forum will feature this past summer’s DMI interns, who secured internships in various areas of the music industry in Cleveland, Oxford, Nashville, and so on.  Sit in to find out what these interns learned on the job and hear about some of their experiences.

The school year is off to a great–and, as always, busy–start, and we can’t wait to reveal more events and exciting news as they approach.  Stay tuned!

Music Monday: Jessica Faith

Singer/songwriter Jessica Faith is an old soul in a young body. From the small town of Monticello, Arkansas, Faith’s original songs are capturing the attention of fans of multiple genres of music.  She draws her inspiration from the likes of Billy Joel, Carole King, Sarah Bareilles, and Ben Rector, with some Southern Gospel roots thrown in for good measure.

Her first EP, “Wallflower,” was released in the fall of 2013 to favorable reviews. On the heels of that release, Jessica entered her song, “If I Told You,” in the Amplifier Center Stage competition, funded by Hyundai, the “Official Vehicle Partner” of the GRAMMY Awards®. Two-time GRAMMY winner David Guetta–the French music producer and DJ who has sold over six million albums and 15 million singles worldwide—was the 2014 Amplifier Center Stage official Ambassador for the program.

A combination of talent and persistent fans vaulted Jessica to the top of over 2,700 entries as one of three national winners in the contest, along with California band Bonavox and French artist Eyango. As one of the winners, she performed in 2014 at the Gibson Show Room at SXSW in Austin, opening for Allen Stone and Aloe Blacc.

Her first video—to her song “Without A Fight”—was produced in Nashville by Deaton/Flanigen Productions and was released on the GRAMMY’s Youtube channel on January 27th, 2015.

Check out Jessica Faith’s music video, “Without a Fight,” and be sure to like/follow her on social media.





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