Crosby Hall

Friday, February 18, 2022

February 18, 2022 - 12:56pm

Students, staff, and community members gathered at the Brownstone Center of the Arts last Friday for an extraordinary evening of history and music.  

Dr. Jeffrey Murdock, who was the 2021 GRAMMY Educator of the Year, presented “A Journey Through Black Music” featuring both lecture and musical examples performed with him playing piano and singing. 

His presentation was an incredible example of the power Black History Month programming can have. The first portion of the evening had Murdock speaking about different time periods of Black music in American history. The second half had dozens of young men and women join him on the stage. 

Dr Jeffrey Murdock plays piano on the stage of the Brownstone Center for the Arts atPRCC Feb 2022

“Music has always been a part of the Black experience and the American Experience,” said Murdock. “I will take it a step further in saying the American music experience is inextricably linked to the Black experience.”    

The journey through time started with the spirituals sung by slaves in the fields. Songs such as “Swing Lo, Sweet Chariot” and “Go Down, Moses” that seemed religious to the slave masters, but really contained coded messages for the Underground Railroad. 

The audience was then taken through a jump in time post slavery to the Harlem Renaissance, the growth of artistic output centered in Harlem, N.Y. between the end of World War I and the mid-1930s. Some of the work of the musicians and poets was taken and used without credit while others remained as it was unique to the plight they faced. 

Sometimes the songs tackled uncomfortable topics such as the 1950s Billie Holiday piece, “Strange Fruit.” 

The Black Church was discussed at is served as a place of refuge for the community. Each church has its own approach to the music, often putting their own spin on the same songs. They always contained the overarching theme of Christ’s love.  

“It was a place where you could find comfort in a place where you could find fullness of joy,” said Murdock. “But a time came when the music had to leave the church.” 

Songs like “Turn Me Around” and “We Who Believe in Freedom” were sung when calling attention to civil rights. Instead of covert messages, the songs were more overt in their messaging.  

Yet, joy remained in Black music with songs like “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder released in the early 1970s. And songs like “Glory” and “A Change Is Gonna Come” are songs sung in the name of continued pursuit of equality. 


East Marion Gospel Choir and PRCC Singers join Dr. Jeffrey Murdock on stage Feb 2022

After his official presentation, Murdock was joined on stage by the PRCC Singers and the East Marion Gospel Choir. The students spent several hours that day preparing for the event and gave amazing performances.  

“Having an opportunity to perform with Dr. Murdock was a life-changing experience for the singers of the East Marion Gospel,” said Gary McCullum, director of the East Marion Gospel Choir. “His notes on singing authentic African American songs has enlightened us to reach new heights in our expressive musical approach.” 

At times, Murdock encouraged the audience to “join the choir” with many enthusiastically belting out the lyrics taught in a call and response style. This included the initial piece, “Just Want to Praise You Forever.” 

Pieces by Richard Smallwood with a more classical feel for the piano accompaniment that were sung included “His Mercy Endureth Forever” and “Total Praise.” “All in His Hands” and “Goin' up Yonder” were among the other selections for the evening. 


Murdock is internationally known as a conductor, clinician, and skilled gospel musician. He currently serves as Associate Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Arkansas. He is the 2016 Connor Endowed Faculty Fellow in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Science, and 2019 Most Outstanding Faculty at the University of Arkansas. He is the 2021 GRAMMY Music Educator of the Year. 

Murdock has conducted regional and state honor choirs, and headlined conferences in 26 states and 5 countries. His research interests include Culturally Responsive Pedagogy in the Choral Classroom, Music in Urban Schools, and Social Justice in Music Education. 

Murdock holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting, both from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Music Education from the University of Memphis. 

For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats), Instagram (PRCCWILDCATS), and Facebook (@PRCCMKTG). 

February 18, 2022 - 3:53pm

Pearl River Community College’s campuses were busier than normal this week with more than 800 students from 12 area high schools visiting PRCC’s Forrest County and Poplarville locations. The focus was on Career Technical Education and Allied Health programs and how the students could potentially find their dream profession in one of those programs. 

Students were greeted with a warm welcome onto campus with music and dancing compliments of the Pearl River Pep Band, W.C. Rivers, and the 2022 UCA National Champions PRCC Cheerleaders.  

High School students sit in stands for welcome by PRCC Cheerleaders and the Pep Band

Students selected two programs that most interested them from the 19 CTE and 11 Allied Health programs available during the visit. Lead instructors for the highlighted programs shared information around what they would learn as well as potential career opportunities after graduation. 

“It was great to have high school students back on campus for our CTE and Allied Health days after taking a break due to COVID-19,” said Dr. James David Collum, Dean of Career and Technical Education at FCC. “Our recruitment team and instructors did a fantastic job giving these students a glimpse into Pearl River's programs and student life.  

“There is no substitute for students seeing first-hand what it is like to be a Wildcat in person. 

High School students watch demonstration of surgical tech skills by PRCC students

Several of the programs went well beyond, talking and demonstrating equipment students get to use while earning their certificate or degree. Allied Health students witnessed the “real-life” simulation of an emergency event and how a patient is successfully treated within the new Simulation lab on the Forrest County Campus. Sparks were flying as students watched welding in progress. 

“CTE Day was a great experience for our potential incoming freshman as well as our faculty,” said Dr. Amy Townsend, Dean of Career & Technical Education for Poplarville and Hancock Campuses. “Some sessions included opportunities for the students to interact with PRCC students as they explained projects they were currently working on. Also, some instructors invited recent graduates to share their success stories. 

“I personally enjoyed the opportunity to interact with our high school CTE folks who are critical in helping us make connections throughout the year.” 

They had the opportunity to take walking tours of each campus and speak with Recruiters about scheduling private tours in the future. On the Poplarville campus, they were also able to see the dorm options up close. 

 “We’re extremely happy to host these hundreds of prospective Wildcats on our PRCC campuses and know that these events will continue to cultivate an easy transition from our local high schools to PRCC,” said Kari Eve Valence, Coordinator of Recruitment and Marketing. “Through events like this we hope to give these prospective PRCC students a chance to see themselves in these CTE and Allied Health programs.  

“Many of these students are already taking these types of classes within their high school programs. Through events like this they see first-hand how they can continue their education and find success here at Pearl River as well as within their planned career path.” 

Students stand outside welding building to learn about the program at Poplarville CTE Day 2022

For some of the visiting students, attending PRCC will be the next step in their educational career.  

Kiln resident Paige Easterling currently attends Hancock High School where she is involved in the polymer science career tech pathway. She plans to attend PRCC in the fall and was visiting both the Electronics Technology and Business Marketing & Management Technology programs. 

“Visiting the programs today helped to finalize my decision,” said Easterling. “I want to get the skills for eventually making electrical prosthetics. And the marketing classes will be helpful for running my own business someday.”  

Another Hancock High School student, Levy Aidan, came to see what it will be like when he begins the Drafting and Design program this fall. The Bay St. Louis resident has already been taking classes in the field and plans to eventually pursue a degree in architecture. 

“Attending PRCC will help me transfer into a 4-year program and save money in the process,” said Aidan. 


Prospective Wildcats interested in visiting any of PRCC’s campuses for a tour can call The Office of Recruitment at (601)403-1197 or email

For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats), Instagram (PRCCWILDCATS), and Facebook (@PRCCMKTG)

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