By GWEN SISSON
Audiences will remember Sue Keller from the first Charles Templeton Ragtime Jazz Music Festival.
Keller will be one of four entertainers at the Fifth Annual Festival, set for March 25-26 in the Mitchell Memorial Library on the Mississippi State University campus.
She will join Jim Hession in a concert set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bettersworth Auditorium in Lee Hall at MSU.
Keller will share her “Talk at the Piano” with audiences at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Charles Templeton Music Museum on the fourth floor of the Mitchell Memorial Library.
Lyle Tate, one of the organizers for this year’s festival, said Keller is a dynamic, exciting performer, as well as a genuinely nice person, and organizers are looking forward to her performance.
Tate said Keller’s appearances on the ragtime music stage have ranged from the grand opening of Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston Harbor to the fabled Mikado nightclub in Tokyo, across the continent of Australia, and even to the Great Wall of China.
Festival organizers said Keller was excited to return to the Templeton Festival this year.
“Everyone involved is so friendly, and the festival is so well-run,” Keller said in an interview with Festival organizers. “I’m looking forward to having lots of fun again this year!”
Keller began her love of Ragtime music in 1974, after graduating from DePauw University with a degree in music and theatre. Festival organizers said she has since been recognized as one of the world’s top ragtime pianists.
She recently retired from her seven-year position of artistic director for the Scott Joplin Festival and this year was recognized by the Joplin Festival board for her achievement in ragtime performance and research.
Keller said just before the first Templeton festival, she and her husband met Chip Templeton and Steven Cunetto at the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento, Calif.
She said Templeton and Cunetto spoke about hosting a ragtime festival in Mississippi to compliment the Charles Templeton Sr. music collection. That first year, Keller said the audience was fairly sparse, but appreciative.
“The most interesting part for me was the fact that the library ran the event,” Keller said. “Also, the sheet music collection is really something. The museum is certainly special. What a collection. Really spectacular.”
Stephen Cunetto, director of the Charles Templeton Ragtime Jazz Festival, said that while it is a ragtime and jazz festival, audiences will experience a variety of music genres as part of the weekend’s events.
“I would also point out that while the name implies that the festival is only about ragtime and jazz it truly is not,” Cunetto said. “I think the name probably scares some people off. We have a wonderful mix of performers who were all classically trained that specialize in many genres and they typically play a variety of music during the concerts.”
Keller will be one of those performers who will share a variety of musical styles with Festival audiences.
“This year, I’ve brought back lots of tunes that I haven’t played in a while, and also, some new things just for the festival,” Keller said. “I play all kinds of music that have nothing to do with ragtime.”
And as part of her “living room” event, Keller plans a variety of music.
“When I do my ‘meet and greet,’ I’m pulling out all of the stops,” Keller said. “I’ve been fascinated by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Brazilian music for the last several years, I dabble a bit in classical, I’ve written a few interesting tunes (mostly new Christmas stuff), and I’ll get to do all of it right then.”
Ragtime performer, Fredrick Hodges has agreed to play two tunes with Keller as part of her Friday night set.
“That will be a lot of fun for us, as well as the audience,” Keller said.
Tickets for the 2011 Charles Templeton Ragtime Jazz Festival are available for daily events, evening concerts and for the entire festival by visiting http://library.msstate.edu/ragtime/festival/tkts/index.html  or by contacting festival planning committee member Lyle Tate at email@example.com  or 325-2559.
For more information about the Charles Templeton Ragtime Jazz Festival, go to http://www.library.msstate.edu/templeton/festival .