Keeping The Blues Alive Recipient - 2012
Blues In The Schools
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.
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!
The Future Of The Blues
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!!!! -