The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) has announced that Steve Azar will be a recipient of its 2018 Governor’s Arts Award. Established in 1988, Governor’s Arts Awards are given to individuals and organizations to recognize outstanding work in visual, literary and performing arts, community development through the arts and arts patronage in Mississippi. Azar’s current album, Down At The Liquor Store album, was recorded on location at Club Ebony in Indianola, MS with backing by The Kings Men, veterans of B. B. King, Albert King and Elvis Presley bands. Azar returned to his hometown of Greenville, MS after a lengthy sojourn in Nashville and continues to serves as the official Music and Cultural Ambassador of the State of Mississippi. He’s been a hit songwriter, recording artist, music producer, golfer and philanthropist who describes his music as “Delta Soul.” Earlier in his career, his song Waitin’ On Joe went to #1 on Country Music Television and, from the same album, the hit single “I Don’t Have To Be Me (‘Til Monday)” received BMI’s Three Million-Air airplay award. Azar is also co-founder of the Mighty Mississippi Music Festival, the Delta Soul Celebrity Golf Tournament and the Steve Azar St. Cecilia Foundation. He is the subject of a feature-length documentary that chronicles the recording Down At The Liquor Store and his enduring relationship with his home state titled Something In The Water.
Link to view preview of Something In The Water:
Down At The Liquor Store has garnered critical kudos including a review in The Morton Report in which music industry veteran Bill Bentley wrote "Azar is one of most astute and moving voices to come out of the Delta in the past 20 years,” noting, "Azar has the dirt-deep Mississippi feel, and while he's capable of sophisticated swinging he never gets too fancy. Instead, he digs down all the way and zeroes in on what he calls 'Delta Soul.' For those who've missed former heroes like Delaney Bramlett and Jim Ford, fret no more. Steve Azar is bringing it all back home…"
Azar and the four other 2018 recipients — Ballet Mississippi’s David Keary, painter Joe Overstreet, V.A. Patterson, former executive director of Very Special Arts Mississippi and the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi as well as the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council — will be recognized at the 30th annual Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony at the Old Capitol Museum in downtown Jackson MS on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, at 6 p.m. A public reception at 4:30 p.m. will precede the ceremony.
“These five recipients have not only experienced great success in their respective fields, but each recipient has, in their own way, worked to effect positive change, using the power of the arts to make our state and nation a more colorful, expressive and just place to live,” said Malcolm White, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission. “We are excited to honor these worthy recipients in a milestone year for the arts in Mississippi, the 50th anniversary of MAC’s founding and the 30th anniversary of the Governor’s Arts Awards.”
Azar commented, “It’s wonderful to be recognized by the Mississippi Arts Council for this honor, especially in light of the brilliance and dedication of the other four recipients. I could not be more delighted to be a Mississippian doing whatever I can to support the arts in our communities.”
About the Governor’s Arts Awards
The Governor’s Arts Awards is an annual ceremony that recognizes individuals and organizations that have made noteworthy contributions to the arts in the state of Mississippi. The awards are presented in partnership with the Governor’s Office and signify the important relationship between government and the arts. Schools, businesses, organizations, arts initiatives and events are eligible to receive Governor’s Arts Awards, in addition to individual artists and supporters of the arts. Notable past recipients include Eudora Welty, B.B. King, Leontyne Price, the Bologna Arts Center and the USA International Ballet Competition.
Award winners are nominated by members of the public and selected by a jury of community arts leaders and industry peers. Recipients are not required to be Mississippi residents, but they must have significant ties to the state through some years of residency.
The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) is a state agency serving more than two million people through grants and special initiatives that enhance communities, assist artists and arts organizations, promote arts education and celebrateMississippi’s cultural heritage. MAC is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and other private sources. For more information, visit www.arts.ms.gov.