The University of Mississippi

Medal for the Arts

Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer Glen Ballard will receive the 2023 Medal for the Arts at the University of Mississippi during an April 20 program and concert. The highest honor the university gives to recognize excellence in the arts, the Medal for the Arts will be presented by the UM Institute for the Arts and the program produced by the Living Music Resource.

Music industry icon Glen Ballard of Hollywood, California, will be honored with the highest award the University of Mississippi gives to recognize excellence in the arts.

At an April 20 ceremony and concert in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, the Medal for the Arts will be presented to the songwriter, lyricist and record producer by UM’s Institute for the Arts, with the program produced by the Living Music Resource.

Over his almost 50-year career, Ballard is perhaps best known for co-writing and producing “Jagged Little Pill” for Alanis Morrissette, which won five Grammy Awards, including Best Rock Album and Album of the Year, and was ranked by Rolling Stone as one of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”

Ballard, an Ole Miss alumnus and Natchez, Mississippi, native, will be a 2023 inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York City on June 15, alongside Snoop Dogg, Gloria Estefan, Jeff Lynne and Sade.

Visiting Glen Ballard in Hollywood, California, are, from left, Nancy Maria Balach, chair of the UM Department of Music and director of the Institute for the Arts; Brady Bramlett, UM associate director of development; Ole Miss alumnus Bradford Cobb of Los Angeles, California, partner in Direct Management Group Inc.; and Caroline Hourin, UM associate director of development.

“The spirit of soulful artists is embedded in this award,” Ballard said of his selection for UM’s Medal for the Arts. “I prefer to think of it as a celebration of the arts from this magical place and not just a recognition of my journey. William Faulkner and so many others are linked to this place. I am grateful to be part of this tradition.”

Designed along the lines of the Kennedy Center Honors which selects honorees for lifetime artistic achievements, the 7:30 p.m. program will feature a performance by Ballard, a short documentary on his life and a message from a surprise musical guest.

“We are so excited to bestow upon Glen Ballard this prestigious award,” said Nancy Maria Balach, chair of the Department of Music and director of the Institute for the Arts. “His exceptional work is so well known, such as the songs ‘Man in the Mirror’ written for Michael Jackson and ‘Believe’ written for ‘The Polar Express’ film.

“This will be an evening of entertainment at its finest. Glen is really a brilliant renaissance man — the epitome of a collaborative artist who connects the dots,” said Balach. “His career speaks for itself; he has reached a high level of success that most people only dream about.

“We encourage people to make plans to attend this special evening and help us welcome Glen home, recognizing him as one of our own. And while he is on campus, he will work with our students and be a tremendous resource to them.”

Ballard — who has won six Grammy awards and an Olivier Award and was nominated for an Academy Award — has worked with Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Quincy Jones, George Strait, Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban, Aerosmith, Dave Matthews, Van Halen, Chaka Khan, Andrea Bocelli, Katy Perry, Ringo Starr, Shakira, Christina Aguilera and Idina Menzel, as well as launched the debuts of Curtis Stigers, Jack Wagner, Paula Abdul, Wilson Phillips and Morrissette.

Glen Ballard

Ballard’s Hollywood-based international production company, Augury, focuses on developing projects for musical theater, episodic TV and streaming, feature films and live music events. He co-wrote the song score and executive produced the Netflix series “The Eddy” and wrote songs for such films as “The Slugger’s Wife,” “Navy Seals,” “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm,” “The Polar Express,” “Charlotte’s Web” and “Pinocchio.” He has composed work for theater productions “Ghost the Musical” and “Back to the Future Musical,” which will open on Broadway this summer.

When Ballard was a student at Ole Miss, he majored in English, journalism and political science and graduated in 1975 with honors. He was the editor of the Ole Miss Annual and produced the only green-colored yearbook cover in school history.

Days after commencement, he headed to Hollywood to get his start. He called a family friend who worked at a golf course there, and that individual knew a golfer who happened to run Sunset Sound Recordings. Before Ballard knew it, he had a job.

Ballard, who plays piano and guitar, has sold more than 150 million records worldwide. He was inducted into the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame in 2008.

“Glen is an example of the caliber of graduates Ole Miss produces, and that’s why we developed the Medal for the Arts award. We want to honor contributors and patrons across all genres of the arts who enrich our lives and make the University of Mississippi proud,” said Brady Bramlett, associate director of development at the university and executive managing director of the Living Music Resource. “Glen has the kind of career that many strive to obtain.”

The inaugural 2022 Medal for the Arts award was given posthumously to Jim Weatherly, renowned songwriter and Ole Miss alumnus.

Tickets to the ceremony and concert are $20 for the general public and $5 for Ole Miss students, faculty and staff. They can be purchased at the UM Box Office located in the Ford Center and open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; by calling 662-915-7411; or online.

By Tina H. Hahn/UM Development

About Living Music Resource (LMR)

The Living Music Resource is an innovative music and arts education program housed at the university. LMR gives Ole Miss students enriching experiences outside the classroom to help them become more marketable in today’s varied music industries and professions. LMR initiatives include the production of LMR Live, a popular interactive web talk show series, as well as master classes, full productions and concerts, commissioning of new music works, intensive workshops and mentored research opportunities for music majors.