Keeping The Blues Alive Recipient - 2012
Blues In The Schools, what is that all about? If you listen to and enjoy any type of popular American Music, then you are listening to an evolution of the Blues. Jazz, R&B, Soul, Funk, Rock & Roll, Country and even Rap and Hip Hop all have their origins in this thing we call the Blues. The Blues is the proud mother and father of all American Music.
The story of the Blues begins not with the musicians and singers who created this wonderful music, but with one of the most brutal and tragic events in the history of civilization - slavery. The story begins over four hundred years ago on the West Coast of Africa, and set into motion the harrowing chain of conflict, struggle, and hardship that was to bring the blues to life.
The Blues Isn't just a style of music, it's an attitude of mind. The Blues tells the story of how an entire race of people overcame discrimination, cruelty, suffering and despire to survive. The Blues is about people, their loves, fears, and hardships. The Blues are sung with soul and passion, and often with a sense of humor. The music is it's own history and the soundtrack to the story of this country. Over four hundred years of history and a century of recordings have produced a style of music that has more followers today than ever before. The Blues is the native language of Black American, but is loved and recognized in every corner of the world.
This is what the Blues In The Schools is all about - keeping the history and legacy of this great American art form alive. What better place to do it than in the the classsrooms of this countries schools. I think it is the single most important thing I do as a musician. I feel that I have an obligation to pass on the story and history of this music to the generations coming up so that it never dies. If the Blues dies a part of the American soul dies with it. We must never allow that to happen.
I have a Masters in American History and have spent time in the classroom from the elementary up to the college level. But this is different! My presentation takes a four hundred year ride right into the classroom. The students experience the music, the history, the stories and they have a great time on top of it. They get a little geography and insight into different cultures as well as a history timeline. They get up close and personal looks at Blues instruments like the guitar, harmonica, diddleybow, Khalam, cane flute, Ngoni, dobro and Djimbi. They hear live preformances of Gospel, Delta and Chicago Blues, Jazz, R&B, Rock & Roll and modern contempory blues. They participate in a classic "call and response" and Field Hollar -' The Hippopatumus Song'! They'll hear stories about the European Celts, Griots, West Africans, famous Blues musicians and they'll leave that classroom singing - "The Blues, the Blues, the Blues are alright" - I promise!
My Blues In The Schools presentations can be tailored to meet the needs of a school in topics such as social studies, history, language arts, geography, women and minorities, and of course, music. Over the years I have presented numerous workshops on how to blow the blues harp - Mississippi Saxaphone! I have given away literally thousands of harps to the kids. I am a Hohner Harmonica endorsee and I get BIS harps for the Blue Societies that provide the funding for the presentations.
I offer similar programs for libraries and civic organizations and I have presented a wide variety of workshops at Blues festivals throughout the Rocky Mountain region.
Funding for Blues In The Schools presentations are available through the Colorado Blues Society (for the Front Range) and the Grand County Blues Society (for Grand County). Contributions are gladley accepted from individuals as well as grants from businesses and other organizations. If you are interested in having a Blues In The Schools presentation at your school (all levels, private or public), after school program, library, civic organization, etc., please contact me - firstname.lastname@example.org, or either of the above mentioned Societies (just click on their name) and we will set something up for you.
Over the last eighteen years more than 100000 kids and students have made the trip with me down the Blues Highway. I've been a Blues musician and educator for over 40 years and there is nothing I'd rather do than make a Blues In The Schools presentation. I sincerely believe it's important that kids get the opportunity to have this experience . A wonderful gift has been bestowed on all of us - a blessing born from the cruel and harsh history of a beleaguered people. Through the power of their soul and determination they have rode the Blues Highway all the way from the cotton fields and plantations of the Deep South to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The Blues was always the soundtrack and anthem for this incredible journey. The kids need to know this, just as much as they need to know how to read and write. When they go rockin' out of one of my sessions singing the "Blues are alright",
- YOUR DAMN RIGHT!!!! -