MSU Libraries to host 14th Templeton Ragtime and Jazz Festival, Gatsby Gala

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Mississippi State University’s Mitchell Memorial Library is bringing the late 19th and early 20th centuries to life during the 14th annual Charles H. Templeton Ragtime and Jazz Festival.


Taking place Feb. 27-29, the festival kicks off on the 27th with the seventh annual Gatsby Gala in the library’s main lobby. The 6 p.m. fashion show features 1920s apparel designed by MSU School of Human Sciences fashion design and merchandising students and modeled by MSU Fashion Board members. Internationally renowned pianist and seven-year festival artistic director Jeff Barnhart of Mystic, Connecticut, will provide music.


Gala admission is free, and attendees are encouraged to wear their best 1920s-inspired outfits.



The theme of this year’s festival centers around the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s passage, granting women the right to vote.


Daytime museum tours, informative talks, silent films, “meet the artists” segments and educational seminars all will commemorate this theme and Black History Month on Feb. 28 and 29 in the Charles H. Templeton Sr. Music Museum at Mitchell Memorial Library, located at the southeast corner of the university’s historic Drill Field.


“The history of U.S. women” is among MSU Assistant Professor of History Courtney Thompson’s research interests. She said women fought hard for at least 70 years for their right to vote, and they continued to fight for true enfranchisement and political representation after the 19th Amendment’s passage.


“The 19th Amendment is one significant moment in a much longer, ongoing struggle for women’s rights in America,” she said. “It represents the culmination of struggle but not an end point, as the struggle has continued through the past 100 years and into the present day.”


World-renowned musicians will perform ragtime, jazz, blues, folk and country music during 7:30 p.m. concerts Feb. 28 and 29 in the mainstage theater at McComas Hall.


During Friday’s concert, MSU Libraries will present MSU junior music education major Daniel A. Rorabaugh of Long Beach with the sixth annual Keyone Docher Student Achievement Award. The honor celebrates the passion and talent of Docher, a Weir native and former MSU junior music education/piano major who died in 2014 following a 13-year battle with cancer.



How to go


Admission to all festival events is free for MSU students with valid student I.D. General admission tickets good for all events are available for $65 each. Patrons can purchase a “Friday Only Ticket” for $35, good for all Friday events including the evening concert. A “Saturday Only Ticket” option also is available for Saturday’s events and concert. Tickets just for the Friday and Saturday concerts can be purchased for $15 each. Discounted fees are available for senior citizens and retired MSU faculty and staff members. Tickets are available for advance purchase online and also will be sold at the door. For additional information and to register online, visit


Parking is available at the Old Main Academic Center parking garage on Barr Avenue. Patrons also can use MSU’s S.M.A.R.T. shuttle system for transportation to and from the festival. For more information about parking, visit



Festival performers


In addition to Barnhart, festival performers include:


  • Bill Edwards, a Southern California native who started his professional career in the late 1970s. Now in northern Virginia, he holds the 1991 title from the World Championship of Old-Time Piano. In 2016, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Ragtime Research and Performance from the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival, an event for which he is director of symposiums.


  • Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton is a young multi-instrumentalist who, in 2016, performed to a sold-out audience at the Lead Belly Tribute at Carnegie Hall, alongside Buddy Guy, Eric Burdon and other stars. He headlined the 2017 Brooklyn Folk Festival. Appearing in the multi-award-winning music documentary “American Epic” produced by Robert Redford, Jack White and T-Bone Burnett, Paxton is known for transforming traditional jazz, blues, folk and country through his humor and storytelling.


  • Stephanie Trick and Paolo Alderighi, a husband-wife piano jazz duo that has earned widespread success with its arrangements of classics from the stride piano, ragtime and boogie woogie repertoires, as well as from the swing era and the Great American Songbook, have performed across the U.S., Europe and Japan. In 2018, they released “Broadway and More,” their fifth album. Along with multiple stints at MSU’s festival, the couple has performed at venues including the Kobe Jazz Street Festival in Japan, the London Jazz Festival and the Ascona Jazz Festival in Switzerland, among others.


    In addition to MSU Libraries, the School of Human Sciences and the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, this year’s sponsors include MaxxSouth Broadband, City of Starkville, Mississippi Arts Commission, and National Endowment for the Arts.


    For more festival information, visit, call 662-325-6634 or email [email protected]




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