Derek Norsworthy – Artist in Residence

MSA Foundation

D A T E / T I M E

May 19, 2021


MSA Campus
355 West Monticello St.
Brookhaven, Mississippi


Derek Norsworthy, a Mississippi singer and songwriter, will spend a day at the Mississippi School of the Arts as part of the Guest Artist Residency Program.

More about Derek from the official web site at

Originally from the Mississippi Gulf Coast town of Escatawpa, Derek Norsworthy is a second-generation musician who has fond memories of riding with his father in an old pickup and listening to rock and country music stalwarts like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams, Jr., and Van Halen.

“Dad had this old blue cassette box that had an assortment of rock and country tapes in there, and I remember knowing at that point I wanted to be like the guys on the tapes,”

Norsworthy said. “When I was seven, he took me to a kid-friendly music festival and let me watch from next to his drum kit. But what really woke up something inside me was a Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt concert that year at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum.”

Another turning point came at age fifteen when Norsworthy was in a band that suddenly found themselves without a designated lead vocalist. He didn’t hesitate to grab the microphone.

“I had been writing songs for a couple years at that point, so it kind of felt right to learn to sing them in the band,” he said. “The band stayed together through high school, recording two albums, playing shows, and building a local following. After graduation we split up—by that point I was completely ate up with playing music and knew it was what I was meant to do.”

Norsworthy put a band back together and played regional college towns, fraternity parties, and managed to open for a number of national acts. He did so while going to college and earning a nursing degree—he’s a certified RN. In 2014 he released his first EP, Derek Norsworthy. He also created The Roots Foundation, an organization which has partnered with the Mississippi Songwriters Alliance to promote music education programs in schools and works closely with special needs children.
“Where I’m from you either go to work at the plant or shipyard. Music or art isn’t really thought of as a career—that never set well with me,” Norsworthy said. “I believe people should be empowered and given the opportunity to be whatever their heart desires. It’s amazing the impact that music has on people despite any condition, and I absolutely love the philanthropy as much as being on stage.”

These days Norsworthy fronts a 12-piece concert band and plays all over the southeast, and he just released a new EP with Grammy Award-winning producer Skidd Mills.

“Every day is a blessing,” Norsworthy said. “Getting to wake up and have a chance to inspire others amazes me more than anything. I like to tell young people that it’s not always the most talented musicians that rise to the top—it’s the hardest worker. I’m tenacious, and I don’t give up. I think that comes from music burning down in my soul.”