USM faculty member helps showcase MS culture, receives Kindness in Action recognition

HATTIESBURG, MS. - A University of Southern Mississippi Faculty Member is this week's Kindness in Action. Jay Dean is recognized for working with the state legislature and starting Mississippi's Bicentennial concert and helping USM music students.

Dean is the Director of local music and art associations where he shares his love of arts with students and the state.

“Mississippi is known for a lot of things, and music is something that the state is really well known for" says Dean.

He is the founder of Festival South and organized Mississippi's Bicentennial concert, which both showcases music and arts throughout Mississippi's history.

Dean says, “We started working towards doing Bicentennial concerts backs in 2013. The Governor founded the commission for celebrating the Bicentennial four years ago.”

The state's Bicentennial concert celebrates 200 years of statehood through culture. “It was an opportunity not only to celebrate those specific types of music and celebrate those performers and writers"

He adds, "But an opportunity to introduce people to music that was written by and performed by Mississippians.”

Dean is currently the Music Director and Administrator of USM's Symphony Orchestra and Director of Orchestra Activities at Southern Miss.

He is also the Artistic Director and Administrator of the Southern Opera and Musical Theatre Company, General Director of the Hattiesburg Civic Chorus and Concert Association, and Executive and Artistic Director of Festival South.

Dean helps out of state music students begin their career at USM. “We help them come here through scholarships, they significantly improve their lives, many of them, and enjoy a quality of life that they have not known in their own country.”

He says the talented students add to the arts in Hattiesburg. “What we do here with the orchestra and with music and in general with the arts. We always have four things that drives our thinking."

"One is education, two economic development, three quality life, four is tourism" he says.

Some call Dean a modern day music man where he brings his talents to the Pine Belt and Magnolia state.“Music is Mississippi’s most powerful voice" he says.

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