CAC kicks off Mississippi 200 with Toad's Jonathan Kingham, Claire Holley

January 7, 2017 10:01:31 PM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


A pair of performing songwriters help launch the Columbus Arts Council's Mississippi 200 Thursday. In celebration of the Mississippi Bicentennial, the nonprofit arts organization has committed to presenting at least 200 artists and musicians in 2017. Jonathan Kingham and Claire Holley join the initiative with a show at 7:30 p.m. at the Rosenzweig Arts Center in downtown Columbus.  


"We're excited to kick off Mississippi 200 with these two performers," said CAC Program Manager Beverly Norris.  


Fans of the band Toad the Wet Sprocket should recognize Kingham, a touring member since 2011 on keyboard, guitar, mandolin, lap steel and vocals. A folk, pop and jazz musician based in Nashville, Tennessee, Kingham is a past Grand Prize winner of the USA Songwriting Competition, a first-place winner of the national Telluride Troubadour Songwriting Contest and Unisong International Song Contest, among others. He also placed in the top five in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest two consecutive years. 


The California native has released four albums and toured nationally with artists including Julio Iglesias Jr. His singing has been featured in films, soap operas and the WB Network's "Felicity." 


From Jackson to L.A. 


After attending college in the Midwest, Jackson native Clarie Holley fell in love with a Mississippi boy and settled down in North Carolina, where she made her first record, "Night Air." Radio play led to another record and striking out to travel the country as a solo performer. Now living in the Los Angeles area, she credits the Southern tradition of storytelling for its influence on her songwriting. 


Described as "spare, delicate arrangements" that are "deceptively simple," her work has been featured in short films, a feature-length documentary and on programs including ABC's "Men in Trees" and NPR's "Weekend Edition." 


On Thursday, Holley and Kingham will perform individual sets, as well as some songs together. 


"I've performed in the Magnolia State many times, but this will be a first for me in Columbus," said Holley, who has recorded seven albums. "It's a blast to play and sing with Jonathan -- a good friend and one of the most talented and generous musicians out there. And hilarious, too." 




How to go 


Tickets are $10 in advance at or by calling the CAC, 662-328-2787 (closed Mondays). Tickets at the door are $12. Seating is limited.  


The Rosenzweig Arts Center is located at 501 Main St.

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.