Gov. Phil Bryant was in town Thursday morning to present a $1 million check to the Cleveland Music Foundation as the first installment for the establishment of the GRAMMY® Museum Mississippi in Cleveland.
Local and state officials along with community members and leaders packed the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni House on the campus of Delta State University to hear the governor speak.
"There would be no American music without Mississippi," said Bryant. "Elvis wasn't born in Memphis, Tenn."
"It's amazing what we have here," added Bryant in reference to musical roots in the Delta. "It's like we had it under a blanket for years. The world is now beginning to realize."
GRAMMY® Museum Mississippi will be the first official GRAMMY® museum outside of Los Angeles, presenting a unique economic development opportunity for Mississippi, Cleveland and the Delta.
"We are here today to say we are doing something very special," said Bryant. "This day will be remembered as the day we began this dream."
According to Bryant, the initial $1 million installment is the largest tourism grant in state history.
"We've got a lot of work to do – we have a lot more money to raise," said Bryant. "I'm on the circuit and my goal is to try and make people understand how important this (museum) is."
Both Cleveland and Bolivar County have also made large financial pledges to the project.
"The city of Cleveland has committed to give us $3 million," said Lucy Janoush, president of the Cleveland Music Foundation, in October. "We can get that money on an as-need basis while the county has committed to $1 million to be paid in four installments of $250,000."
The rest of the funding is expected to come from personal donations.
"Personal donations have come in from individuals and companies from all over the state," she continued.
Janoush echoed Bryant in terms of the significance of the project.
"Our turnout today shows just how excited this community is," said Janoush. "This shows that we have a wonderful and supportive community. We're ready to hit the ground running.
"Gov. Bryant was born in the Delta so he can appreciate music like the rest of us do."
An official ground breaking ceremony has yet to be scheduled, but Janoush said a date should be determined soon.
The 20,000 plus square foot facility will be built on a four-acre portion of the DSU Derrall Foreman Golf Course located on Miss. Highway 8. Two holes will be moved to make room for the structure.
The world-class, museum will be dedicated to exploring the past, present and future of music and the cultural context from which it emerges.
The museum’s permanent exhibition will utilize film, video, interactive kiosks and, of course, music.
Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell was pleased to receive the substantial check as a starting point.
"The word installment really rings well," said Nowell. "It's a good ring to say Los Angeles and Cleveland, Miss., together.
"We're going to work tirelessly to make this a great place."
The museum will be closely affiliated with the Delta Music Institute at DSU, the state’s only accredited program of music industry studies.
Bryant was originally scheduled to present the check Dec. 14 but had to postpone in order to attend the funeral services of long-time state Sen. Alice Harden, who died Dec. 6.