It is only fitting that singer/songwriter/guitarist “Mississippi Marshall” Hopper bears the name of his home state. Mississippi, the “birthplace of America’s music,” gifted the world with the Father of country music, the King of rock and roll, and—most of all—the Delta blues. Mississippi Marshall is a master of all three genres.
Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, Marshall grew up a poor farmer’s son in the 1960s and 70s. He began playing guitar before the age of ten and, by age eleven, he was playing professionally with his father, Ellis Hopper, and the family band. His dad was more of a “country guy,” but Marshall soon began blending country, blues, and rock and roll into a genre all his own. The words of blues legend B.B. King inspired him as he learned who “Mississippi Marshall” would sound like: “You don’t need to sound like anybody...you be you!” Taking that advice seems to have paid off. Throughout his lifelong career, he has made a name for himself and been fortunate enough to share the stage with big names such as Charlie Daniels, B.B. King, Jimmy Vaughn, Three Dog Night, Buddy Guy, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, and countless others.
In concert, Marshall is captivating. He is a storyteller with or without words. He takes time to tell snippets of stories behind his songs (inspired by his own life experiences or observations), but his stage presence communicates even more. His movement is infectious; he feels the music from his bobbing, wagging, shaking head to his tapping toes and invites the listener to groove along. According to Marshall, “Blues is a feeling, and when it’s good and emotional, it can give you chill bumps. It’s that feeling in your soul and on the surface of your skin. That’s the blues you feel on ya. That’s why I invite folks to ‘come get some on ya’!” From intimate private parties to listening rooms to large blues stages, Marshall is a consummate professional who tailors his performance to his audience but won’t let anyone leave without a taste of true blues.
In the words of photographer and blues enthusiast Ray Proetto,“Mississippi Marshall is a true Delta’s Son…He is a talented songwriter, gifted musician and purveyor of his own distinctive blues style. He sings from real experience, emotion and his personal knowledge of a hard life in the Delta. Give his music a listen; you will quickly come to appreciate the talent of Mississippi Marshall.” Currently, Marshall continues performing whenever and wherever he can while writing new material for a fourth album. He is also taking the time to teach and influence younger blues musicians, including his grandson, Grayson Ackerland, who often shares the stage with him.
Tricia Walker is a singer and songwriter whose songs are steeped in the passion, pain and grace of the American South. Born and raised in Mississippi, Tricia has become one of the clearest voices of her own time and place. Her music has been recorded by Faith Hill, Patty Loveless and Alison Krauss, whose performance of Tricia’s Looking in the Eyes of Love earned a GRAMMY® award. A recording artist herself, Tricia’s CD, “The Heart of Dixie,” thoughtfully captures the songwriter’s view of the South with well-placed lyrics and music reflecting her folk, R & B and storytelling influences.
“Culture is a precious, living thing,” Tricia says. “It has to be nurtured if it’s going to survive. Any artist or creative thinker has a responsibility to help chronicle his or her own time, place and people. That’s the surest way to keep a culture from disappearing.
”Before moving to Nashville in the 1980s, Tricia earned an A.A. degree from Copiah-Lincoln Community College and a degree in Music Education from Delta State University. While working on her Master’s Degree, she performed at clubs and festivals in Mississippi and Louisiana. She won American Song Festival and Mississippi Song Festival awards and moved to Music City to sign with giant gospel music publisher Word, Inc. As her songs were recorded on GRAMMY-nominated discs by Kathy Troccoli, Debby Boone, and The Imperials, her reputation as a songwriter spread. Well-respected producer Jerry Kennedy signed Tricia to his Polygram Group stable of writers, further solidifying her credibility.
Tricia’s instrumental skills earned her a spot backing Grand Ole Opry star Connie Smith, with whom she played for six years. She also toured extensively with Shania Twain and Paul Overstreet as a keyboard player and vocalist. Along with Pam Tillis, Karen Staley and Ashley Cleveland, Tricia was a founding member of “Women in the Round,” one of the most celebrated foursomes at Nashville’s prestigious Bluebird Café.
She has performed at the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Tin Pan South Songwriting Festival in Nashville, was a New Folk Winner at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas and featured at Austin’s South by Southwest Music Festival. Additional musical highlights included singing at Robert Redford’s Christmas Cantata at his Sundance Resort as well as a choreographed work for the Nashville Ballet entitled “All the Way Home,” co-written by Tricia and Kate Campbell.
Tricia returned to her native Mississippi in 2006 to become director of the Delta Music Institute, an entertainment industry studies program at her alma mater, Delta State University. After retiring from DSU in the summer of 2019, she was awarded the title of Director Emeritus and plans to develop new musical and creative projects for Big Front Porch Productions. Tricia was recently honored with the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Mississippi Writer’s Guild.
Tricia Walker offers an entertaining slice of her places and times, delivered with a beautiful voice, strong musicianship and the ease of a veteran entertainer. Southern style never had it so good.