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Discover Mississippi: City With Soul...

Discover Mississippi: City With Soul – Jackson serves as the Magnolia State’s capital of culture

By: Courtney Ingle - March 26, 2024

  • Beyond the headlines and the politics, those in the know see Jackson as a thriving place where music, art, food, and history hold equal billing.

While some may think of Jackson, Mississippi as a place filled with headlines, politics, and the business of a capital city, those in the know think of Jackson as a thriving place where music, art, food, and history hold equal billing.

Music thrives in The City with Soul

Dubbed the City with Soul by Visit Jackson, the capital city seems always to be humming with various types of music. Whether there’s live music at one of the hotspots in the city, or you’re heading to a show at one of the several venues, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a “slow night” in Jackson’s music scene. 

Hal and Mal’s is one of Jackson’s most iconic eateries, as well as ground zero for fun, with music events held throughout the year. Started by brothers Malcolm and Hal White, Hal & Mal’s is now owned by a powerhouse culinary couple, Damien and Mary Sanders Cavicchi, and it’s still the headquarters of the annual Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade.

Duling Hall is Fondren’s historic music venue, hosting musical events, shows, meetings, conferences, weddings, and more. The Tudor-style Duling Hall was initially built to be a school in 1927 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The perfectly preserved style of the building offers impressive acoustics during performances. 

Thalia Mara Hall is home to Jackson Live, Broadway in Jackson, and a flood of other performances. Comedians perform standup, Ballet Magnificat captures awe with graceful dance, and actors transport you straight into the storylines on the historic stage. 

The Mississippi Coliseum and Fairgrounds is yet another prime location for concerts in the capital city. The Coliseum holds 6,500 permanent seats and room to add 3,500 temporary seats. There is room for major performers and multi-artist music from every musical genre imaginable, and shows have been being brought in since 1962. The Dixie National Rodeo holds nightly concerts during its time each year, and the Mississippi State Fair often holds numerous concerts at one time throughout the midway, trademart, and coliseum.

Arts abound in Jackson 

(Photo: Mississippi Museum of Art)

The art scene, whether on canvas or stage, thrives in Jackson.  

The Mississippi Museum of Art holds thousands of pieces of drawn, sculpted, and painted art. Over 1,500 artists are featured in the collections at the museum, and new exhibitions bring even more pieces in throughout the year. The Mississippi Museum of Art was born from artists calling for more opportunities during the 1911 Mississippi State Fair. The first location of the museum opened in 1978. In 2007, the museum opened where it is today after a $15 million campaign for its construction.

Jackson is bubbling over with art galleries and studios. Fondren Art Gallery, Pearl River Glass Studio, and Wolfe Studio are all amazing displays of Mississippi artists. 

If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for the arts in Jackson, look no further than the Arts Center of Mississippi. This fantastic cultural hub is in the heart of downtown and is home to dance, music, theater, and visual arts. The complex houses eight fantastic local arts organizations, including Ballet Mississippi, Opera Mississippi, and the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, and the International Ballet Competition.

Jackson is home to three other historic theaters. The newly remodeled Capri in Fondren has been a movie theater since its opening in 1940.  The Alamo, in the Historic Farish Street District, has held hundreds of live performances and continues to be the centerstage for diversity in arts. New Stage Theatre is another jewel of the arts in the city, serving up live stage plays since 1966. 

History is honored and celebrated

Jackson has an abundant history. The city was a home base for the Civil Rights movement and has numerous landmarks and museums to honor that time and tell those stories to future generations. 

Historic Farish Street was once a bustling African American thoroughfare. Though many businesses have come and gone, the brick streets are mostly quiet. Historic Farish Street was a place where African Americans could gather, whether to work, relax, eat, and more. This district stands today as a reflection of the times past. 

Several historic Freedom Trail Markers run through the capital city, highlighting significant places in the fight for Civil Rights during the 1950s and 1960s. The home of Medgar Evers, the Greyhound Bus Station, Mississippi State Capitol, Council of Federated Organizations Civil Rights Education Center, Tougaloo College, Jackson State University, and the site of the 1963 sit-in at Woolworth’s are all Freedom Trail Markers in Jackson.

The Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument houses not only a freedom trail marker but also a museum highlighting the iconic work of the Evers during the Civil Rights movement. Evers was the first NAACP field secretary and a prominent civil rights activist. He was assassinated outside his Jackson home in 1963.  

The Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center is another museum in the city that highlights the life of a Civil Rights activist. Smith Robertson is located in the former home of The West Jackson Colored School, which opened in 1894. The museum’s building was named after Smith Robertson, a formerly enslaved man from Alabama who moved to Jackson after the Civil War. Robertson was an activist ahead of his time. He was involved in politics and was a business owner. He faithfully served as the first African American alderman for the City of Jackson from 1879 until he died in 1899. The museum brings history to life with exhibits showcasing some of the most iconic events in the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s and life for the Black community brought to Mississippi from Africa. 

The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum highlights the events of the Civil Rights movement in the Magnolia State throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. The museum has numerous exhibits, including A Tremor in the Iceberg, which tells the stories of fire and tenacity that fueled young activists to peaceful protests such as read-ins, sit-ins, and taking the Greyhound through Jackson.  

There are nearly two-dozen museums in Jackson. The Lefleur Museum District holds the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum, The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, The Mississippi Children’s Museum, and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. Some homes are museums, such as the Eudora Welty Home and Garden Museum and The Oaks House, which was the home of Jackson Mayor Hervey Boyd and family, built for his wife Eliza Boyd, and is one of Jackson’s oldest homes, dating to 1853. 

More to the story in Jackson

Jackson hums with culture, and this overview of its offerings merely scratches the surface. For more information about Jackson or to plan your trip, see

About the Author(s)
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Courtney Ingle

Courtney Ingle is a veteran journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience in print, radio, and digital media. Courtney brings her talents to bear at Magnolia Tribune to cover family-centered education and to elevate those unique aspects of Mississippi culture.