JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Saturday has to be the most fun day of the year in Jackson, the day of the Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade and Festival.

The theme of the parade this year is “40 Years of All That Jazz.” This year, Grammy-winning jazz artist Cassandra Wilson is the Grand Marshal. She lives in Jackson and says a lot of what she puts into her vocals, she got from growing up in Mississippi.

“I remember when I was in college, I listened to the radio station WZZQ. You remember WZZQ They would play all kinds of music. Everything connected organically. I think that had a huge impact on the way that I processed the sounds,” she said.

Cassandra Wilson is one of the most successful jazz singers, songwriters and music producers in the genre. As a matter of fact, she has expanded the genre of jazz with her renditions, interpretations and vocal stylings. She incorporates blues, country and rock and roll into her jazz vocabulary.

What better fitting grand marshal for a parade with the theme “All That Jazz.” Wilson fell in love with music when she was growing up in Jackson.

“My father had an arch top Gibson. The strings run like this and then they fall off like that. If you can play those strings at the very end, it sounds like a harp. When I was a little girl, I remember playing that harp music and it sounded heavenly to me.”

Her first professional gig was playing guitar at Poets in the Quarter in Jackson. It wasn’t necessarily for the art, but strictly for utilitarian purposes as a college student at Millsaps.

“This was a way to have money to get pizza. At Millsaps, I majored in theatre first, and then philosophy, not knowing what I was going to do.”

It wasn’t until winding up in New York City several years later that the direction of her career began to take shape.

“I started to explore the sessions that were happening at the time. There were a lot of good sessions. A lot of great musicians were still in New York City at the time. That’s when I think I began to really believe that was my life’s purpose was to make music.”

There’s more to “All That Jazz” now that Mississippi’s own Cassandra Wilson has added her touch.

WJTV 12 News will be at the parade live from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. The parade starts at 1:00 p.m.