Musicians tell Southern history through music

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 7, 2010

NATCHEZ — Spring Pilgrimage will be ushered out with the sounds of Southern living.

Songs of the South, an annual musical event featuring local musicians and musicians from the Alcorn State University fine arts department, is at 8 tonight through Sunday at historic Westminster Presbyterian Church, 33 Fatherland Road.

Donna Schaffer, director of choral activities at Alcorn State said the musicians will perform selections of music traditionally associated with the south.

Email newsletter signup

“Songs of the South is really the definition of its title,” she said. “We do music that pertains to the South either in reference or origin. There is not one type of music, but it is all traditionally Southern.”

This year three locals, Kathleen Mackey King, Ginger Hyland and James Wesley Forde, will perform selections for the show. Instrumental selections by violinists and a saxophonist will also be a part of the show, Schaffer said.

“I always enjoy collaborating with different artists, and I really enjoy bringing music to our area and our tourists,” she said.

The concert will feature approximately 20 different selections from all genres of music. Shaffer said this year special attention was paid to selecting music that illustrates the range of music in the South.

“We definitely wanted the program to reflect the many types of music that are part of Southern history,” Schaffer said. “Picking selections that did that was probably the hardest part, but this year we have added blues to the program, and that is important because blues was born here.”

Schaffer said crowd favorites like “Old Man River,” “Amazing Grace” and “Summertime” will all be performed.

Songs of the South marks the end of Pilgrimage, but is the beginning of the Natchez’s Festival of Music. Festival of Music organizer Rena Jean Schmieg said Songs of the South fills the void in evening entertainment left when the Historic Natchez Pageant ends.

She said that scheduling void made it a good time for the festival to plan its first event.

“It is something tourists enjoy because of its relaxed atmosphere, and there are a tremendous number of familiar songs,” she said. “Our tourists come here to see a town that existed in the old South and to see the lovely homes. Music is connected to that period of our history as well and hearing that music is something that is very interesting.”

Tickets for the event are $15 and can be reserved in advance by calling Natchez Pilgrimage Tours at 601-446-6631 or at