The Pike School of Art is asking Pike County residents to help an out-of-state artist on his project for the Center for Art and Public Exchange.

Pike School of Art is looking for volunteers to add their voice to South Carolina artist Charles Williams art piece titled “Forward,” which will be on exhibition at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson and coincide with the release of an EP by Williams.

“Charles is making an EP, and the EP is going to be based on old gospel songs and blues, but the lyrics are being made by interviewing people in McComb and talking about the history in McComb,” Pike School of Art director Calvin Phelps said.  “He is thinking of McComb as a place that is moving forward. He wants to talk to people about how they envision the city and its progress.”

The Pike School of Art is scheduling times for “one-on-one” dialogue Thursday between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Local Works located at 1312C Harrison Ave. Volunteers will be asked questions about McComb, themselves and the connection in between.

“What next week is, is an opportunity to just talk … then he will take those conversations and either sample them or turn them into lyrics,” Phelps said. “The album will be very, very much about McComb, Mississippi.”

Interview questions range from simple topics such as “What makes you smile?” and “What are your dreams and goals?” to more thought-provoking questions like “How do you show value to yourself and toward others?” and “What legacy would you like to leave here on this Earth?” 

Phelps said the album will primarily focus on gospel and blues and telling the story of the town through the story of its people. Williams will accompany music he created with videos that will be publically projected at various locations for community engagement.

Phelps said the project came about through the Center for Art and Public Exchange, which is a group connected to the Mississippi Museum of Art, aimed to bring artists from out of Mississippi into the state. They went to different cities across the state and made briefs about them. Williams chose McComb because of its connection to the Civil Rights Movement, according to Phelps.

“He grew up listening to stories his grandmother would talk about her role in the Civil Rights Movement, and he grew up listening to gospel and was drawn to how they tell stories, so he wants to create these songs to tell stories the same way,” Phelps said.

Phelps said he and the center have been working for over a year to get Williams to be able to come to Mississippi to create the project and noted that the project should be on display by March 2021.

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