Southern Soul and Song attracts big-time artists, tourists

Southern Soul and Song attracts big-time artists, tourists
Southern Soul and Song attracts big-time artists, tourists

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- The Morris Museum of Art in downtown Augusta has been devoted to Southern art since 1985, but it’s expanded its scope with the Southern Soul and Song concert series.

“We wanted to create a musical access point to it too,” said Kevin Grogan, director and curator at the Morris Museum of Art. “The whole concert series is devoted to unique forms of Southern music: bluegrass, country, the occasional rock band, gospel, soul…all kinds of good things.”

Since its inception in 2003, Southern Soul and Song has hosted some legendary musicians.

“We’ve had most of the leading figures in county, bluegrass, and other forms of Southern music since we opened,” Grogan said.

Friday night, the patrons flocked to the Imperial Theater to see Sierra Hull, who has been a steadily rising star in the folk music world for years.

“To get to see her on her own is quite an opportunity I think,” said Gordon Johnston, who attended her performance at the Imperial.

This year Hull was nominated for her first Grammy. She’s 24 years old.

“She’s been performing since she was 11. She made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry at the age of 12 with Alison Krauss and Union Station,” Grogan said. “She’s just been named the Mandolinist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association.”

By bringing in big names like Sierra Hull, the series also brings in people and money to the city.

“I live in Macon and came over with my parents to see Sierra,” Johnston said.

“It’s really sort of startling. Because we do have series ticket holders who live in Alabama,” Grogan said. “We often have people here from Florida and South Carolina, North Carolina.”

Some of them make a weekend out of it, Grogan says.

“Augusta seems to be thriving at night,” said Richard Fohrenbach, who came from Aiken, S.C. to see Hull play at the Imperial. “We’re just glad to be here.”

The money tourists spend in Augusta benefits locals. The proceeds from the shows go towards free cultural programs at the Morris Museum, right here in Augusta.

The next concert in Southern Soul and Song will feature bluegrass band Hot Rize at the Imperial on February 10th.

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