Historian and Mississippi native William Ferris took home a Grammy Award on Sunday for a retrospective of his work as a Mississippi folklorist.
“Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris” won the Grammy Award for Best Historical Album. The 120-page book that accompanied the recordings also received a Grammy for best album notes. A box set, “Voices of Mississippi” contains two discs of Ferris’s blues and gospel recordings from the 1960s and 1970s, one disc of recorded stories and a DVD of documentaries he made in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Ferris, an associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has received a number of awards and accolades for his work with southern folklore, including a Pulitzer Prize nomination for co-editing the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. In the 1980s, Quincy Jones tapped Ferris to help compose the score for the film “The Color Purple.”
Ferris has written and edited 10 books and created 15 documentary films, most of which deal with African-American music and folklore from the Mississippi Delta. A former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ferris also founded the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, where he taught for 18 years.