The first time I discovered the Mississippi Folklife website, I was a graduate student in Folklore at Indiana University in Bloomington. It was sometime in 2015, and I was searching the web looking at the work of various folklife programs to see how cultural workers in other states documented traditional arts in their regions. I remember being so impressed with the art and features on Mississippi Folklife, and my coworker at Traditional Arts Indiana joked that I might be able to work in Mississippi someday and be a part of the online journal. Little did I know that roughly two years later, I would be hired as the Folk and Traditional Arts Director at the Mississippi Arts Commission, a role that included managing Mississippi Folklife.
As the new managing editor of Mississippi Folklife, I am deeply honored to have this position. I am approaching this work from a place of deep respect for the work of the previous editors of the journal including Arthur P. Hudson, Tom Rankin, Ted Ownby, Mary Margaret Miller-White, and Jennifer Joy Jameson. I am in awe of the work they have done during their time in this role and continue to revisit it for inspiration. I am also a tremendous fan of the writing, videography, and photography of our contributors as well as the art of the artists and tradition bearers featured on this site.
I am new to Mississippi by way of Louisiana and Indiana. I was born and raised in Thibodaux, LA. I attended college and graduate school in Lafayette, LA where I studied French literature, comics, and Louisiana folklore. I returned to graduate school in Indiana where I concentrated in public folklore, material culture, festival and ritual, and American Studies. Now that I have been here almost a year, I have had the privilege to travel and see the different regions of Mississippi. Through good food, adventures, and conversation, I have learned a lot about my new home, and the people that I have met here have made me excited about what’s to come as I settle into the state.
The Spring 2018 Issue is the first of a series of three issues that will be published this year. Each issue will include three to five stand-alone features covering music, traditional art, culture and folklife topics. Issues will be published three times a year in March (Spring Issue), June (Summer Issue) and October (Fall Issue). In between issues, we will publish supplementary features monthly such as pop up exhibits, materials from the MAC Folklife Archives, and special projects. I am committed to keeping the journal going for years to come, and this new publishing schedule gives us room for sustainable growth in the near future and beyond.
Through good food, adventures, and conversation, I have learned a lot about my new home, and the people that I have met here have made me excited about what’s to come as I settle into the state.
I would like to say goodbye to two members of our editorial team, our music editor Jamey Hatley and our digital editor Tamara Becerra Valdez. Both Jamey and Tamara have done amazing work during their time at Mississippi Folklife, and I am so grateful to have had the chance to work with them this past year. We are happy to announce that our new music editor is Addie Citchens from Clarksdale, MS. Addie is a talented writer whose work focuses on “blackness, and the performance thereof, the blues, and personal liberation.” Welcome to the team Addie!
In closing, I would like to echo a sentiment expressed by my predecessor, Jennifer Jameson, in her introductory letter to Mississippi Folklife. She said, “As a newcomer to Mississippi, I have a lot of listening to do.” As I take on my role as the managing editor of Mississippi Folklife, I plan to deeply listen and learn about the experiences and perspectives of the people who call Mississippi home. I hope that as we continue to grow, Mississippi Folklife will remain a platform where people can explore the cultural heritage, music, arts, and folklife of the state and tell their own stories in a variety of media.
Thanks for reading and please enjoy the Spring Issue of Mississippi Folklife.