By C. Olivia Sanders
I have never considered Mississippi my home. Even now after living here for the past 10 years, I still have the end goal of leaving this state for good.
I believe Mississippi struggles the most with racism. Ole Miss was in turmoil when they removed the Confederate flag from campus. People are so proud of war here, they were upset about a flag – offended by people being offended. I wish Mississippi would move on to the larger picture, like global warming or poverty.
I lived in Utah for a short time, and whenever my home state came up in conversation, they would say: “Oh, isn’t it really hot and humid there?” I heard this a good half dozen times.
A lot of the media I see about Mississippi are topics about bad weather or sports. Mos of its unique elements aren’t covered.
I feel like others in the U.S. have a poor perception of Mississippi. They see us as a harmless place that is still stuck in the ’50s. I have noticed in most Mississippi towns, there is a desire to fit in.
People in groups all dress and act the same. There is not much variety. Chris Goolsby, 31, of Ripley, Mississippi, said: “In Portland, there is no soul like there is in Mississippi.” I think he was trying to say that there is so many new, young people moving to Portland, the city is losing its own individual culture.
As for Mississippi, there are still entire communities that have poor cellular service and generations that have never left the area. They have little to no access to the world they live in. They do not get to see other countries come out of censorship and embrace the mentalities of a modern world.
Mississippi does have a strong sense of community. Sports are huge, religion is as strong as ever, and our schools are getting stronger. One thing I have heard from others while traveling the states is Mississippi has wonderful hospitality. The thing that is portrayed most accurately is how lovely the food is here.
For my marketing campaign, I would focus the on inventive music of Mississippi. I would not cover basic radio music, such as country, pop, gospel or rap. I would do so only if the artists had an avant garde approach. In other words, it would have to be very strange, eclectic and new.
There have been several different genres of metal that have become popular in Mississippi. About 20 years back, there was a prominent circuit of sludge/doom metal house shows in Jackson. A few years ago, this circuit was taken over by a younger group of punk metal artists.
On the Enyclepadia Metallum website, there are only 61 entries for metal bands in Mississippi, only two I have heard of. Not only would I give coverage to the lives and performances of these artists, I would try to encourage other artists to embrace a contemporary musical approach.
The campaign would be called Mississippi Encore. I would meet with artists for video interviews. I would do a weekly section on band promotion. They would be charged $5 for a plug, whether it’s for a release date, set list, or performance date and location. I would post these on Facebook and Twitter and on the respected website.
On Twitter, I would keep a constant flow of quick and relative information on performances and bands in Mississippi, sort of a “Did You Know?” section. Not only would this help the bands, it would help the venues as well.
They could sell more tickets before doors open, because more people would anticipate the upcoming events. I would make sure the reader understands what they are about to listen to without knowing who the band is.
I would use my music theory knowledge to explain the music in a way that is relatable to both an amateur and a music connoisseur.
I would have a section for artists to reach out to other musicians to put together a band. Their photos will be viewable, as well as a short biography or repertoire list. In this same way, bands who need tour dates can find other shows that have an open time slot.
Of course, I would have to be in constant contact with venues and promoters, and it seems like they are the hardest to contact. Maybe if this campaign were successful, the earning from the plug could go towards a social media app that can give updates for shows and inquiries. News stories would follow performances.
The most important thing to me is encouraging people to give music that is not particularly played on the radio a chance. To me, radio music is like eating nothing but bread every day, or only seeing primary colors and nothing in between. Listening to the extreme talent of a metal musician makes my skin prickle in the same way as classical music. I believe there is the same talent in Mississippi, but is only found by chance.