Hall presents 2020 Humanities Lecture Shannon Warnock, who serves as community leader for the Mississippi Humanities Council, congratulates J.R. Hall on a successful presentation. On Tuesday, Feb. 18, J.R. Hall, a history, philosophy and religion instructor on the Holmes Community College Ridgeland Campus, presented his scholarly presentation, "The History and Phenomena of John Newton's Amazing Grace with American Christianity and Beyond." Hall, who was selected as the 2019-2020 Holmes Humanities Teacher of the Year, presented the lecture (or "experience," as he called it) in the D. P. "Pat" McGowan Workforce Training Center on the Ridgeland Campus with faculty, staff, students, alumni, family and friends in attendance.
Hall's presentation explored the history and phenomena of "Amazing Grace," and he even included musical accompaniment – bag pipes, guitar, piano and singing – to better show the rich history behind the famous hymn. Mike McCollum with the City of Ridgeland opened up the presentation with the bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace," even sporting full Scottish attire in his kilt.
Following the bagpipes, History and Political Science Instructor Kay Kelly introduced Hall and he began his initial introduction to how "Amazing Grace" has been used as a hook for many a movie advertisement/soundtrack. After a quick look at how the hymn began in the 18th Century with John Newton, English instructor Steve Deaton provided guitar accompaniment as Hall sang a rendition of "Amazing Grace" to the tune many know from the song "House of the Rising Sun." Former Holmes librarian, Blair Booker, now a librarian at Mississippi State University, provided accompaniment on the keyboard as Hall performed two other renditions of "Amazing Grace," as well. He even ended his presentation by asking all in attendance to join him in singing the well-known hymn. A reception followed in the lobby.
Hall is in his 16th year as a full-time instructor at Holmes, where he teaches both on the Ridgeland Campus and online. Prior to that, he was an adjunct instructor on both the Ridgeland and Goodman campuses. Hall is a graduate of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Divinity degree. He has additional studies from Mississippi State, Mississippi College and Springhill College.
Additionally, Hall is an Elder in the Mississippi Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, serving appointments in Bassfield, Goodman, d'Iberville, Ridgeland, Burns and currently Monterey UMC in Florence.
A native of Crystal Springs, Hall is married to Dawn Trotti Hall, and they reside in Ridgeland. Dawn has spent her career in the field of early childhood education. They have two daughters, Audrey and Madeline. Audrey is an MFA student at the University of Florida, and Madeline, a Holmes alumna, is a recent graduate of Delta State University.
In his leisure time, Hall enjoys visiting National Parks and other historical sites. He also assists the public address announcer during football games at Ridgeland High School and at Holmes.
After presenting his lecture at Holmes, Hall will be recognized by the Mississippi Humanities Council at the 2020 Public Humanities Awards Gala in Jackson on March 24.