Grammy-nominated singer and speaker Stephen Wade appeared at The University of Southern Mississippi April 8 in the auditorium of the Thames Polymer Science and Research Center.
One of the purposes behind the event was to tell guests about Wade’s book, “The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience.” He also discussed the hour-long album “Banjo Diary: Lessons From Tradition,” a project that he released at the same time as the book.
“He came to talk about his life’s work and promote his book and play songs and talk about the main project,” said Southern Miss history instructor Kevin Greene.
At the start of his speech, Wade informed the audience that he is a former writer for The Southern Quarterly. According to the university website, The Southern Quarterly is a well-known scholarly journal that focuses mainly on art and culture within the South. Wade then discussed his experiences from writing with the literary journal, and the music he played at the time, as well as what inspired him to become more involved in the world of folk tunes.
“I wrote for The Southern Quarterly in 1991. I had an article in there about the 1990 Tennessee Banjo Institute,” Wade said.
During the time Wade spoke, placed behind him on the stage were various banjos with which he used to demonstrate certain parts of each of the stories he told throughout his visit. Wade told guests about many entertaining moments from his experiences as a banjo player and a folklorist. Also, accompanying his words were visual images of the individuals who heavily influenced Wade in not only his personal life, but his professional life as well.
Throughout the remainder of the event, Wade played a few more songs for the audience before signing copies of his book and his album. Afterward, a reception was held for the guests. The event was sponsored by the College of Arts and Letters, Honors College, School of Music and the School of Mass Communication and Journalism Recording Industry Program.