First of all, let me say that the Mississippi's Best Awards, held on Oct. 28 at the TelCom Center, was an excellent idea. The vision honoring the best our state has to offer was long overdue. Not everyone excels in music or athletics. There are restaurateurs, hairdressers and authors who deserve our kudos. Why should we wait for some other entity to validate what we already know: Mississippi matters.
The integrity of the event, however, and our state was compromised. For those who did not attend the ceremony, the majority of the rumors you heard were indeed true. The "Project Runway" models who were supposed to show for the "Passion For Fashion" event were never confirmed. BET's "106 and Park" hosts Terrance J and Rocsi were never booked. Making the Band's Mysterious, and Outkast artist Scar were never actually locked in, either. We were sold a bad bill of goods.
On the day of the event, the venue was not officially confirmed until that same morning, and the promised dinner never happened. Bad business. Most embarrassing was the fact that the "awards," which we waited for an hour to arrive, were mere paper certificates in dollar-store frames. Ultimately, an awards show created to destroy the stereotypes about Mississippi did nothing more than add to that negative image.
Much has been said about organizer Cyrus Webb, his past failures and his inability to explain the holes in his stories. Fact is, he birthed an idea that he felt was important to pursue. Fact is, although I couldn't quite pinpoint it, something wasn't right. Fact is, it turned into a fiasco.
This fiasco cheapened the joy some young artists felt who were being recognized for the first time. What happens when new folks like Infinite, Storage 24 or Nappy Kutz Salon hear and read that their awards may not be worth the paper they are written on?
Sad thing is, I had hoped not to go negative. Even when interviewed by The Clarion-Ledger, I maintained a positive spin. I chose to deal with it my way, in private, like an adult. Webb and I spoke, and I made my intentions very clear. So this column is no shock to him. In order for the Mississippi's Best Awards to continue, in order for me, the MAP Coalition or anyone credible to participate next year, he had to step down. Period. Now that he will no longer have anything to do with the awards' planning or execution, we can begin healing.
We can now put the right people in place during this transition to push the awards to the heights they should go. I applaud Webb for putting the vision before himself. He realized his involvement would seriously compromise any future planning.
So now let's learn from the mistakes and move on. I have pledged my influence to help and if you agree, stand up and join me in creating next year's Mississippi's Best Awards.
Outstanding Mississippians deserve to be spotlighted, and our stare deserves that shining moment every year. The vision was a noble one from the start. And that's the truth … sho-nuff.