Delta Blues Museum is adding a special event to kick off its 2023 Sunflower Festival activities, thanks to a Mississippi Humanities Council (MHC) Mini-Grant just announced.
The grant will support a special panel discussion, “From Hand to Hand: Passing Down the Blues,” featuring three graduates of the Delta Blues Museum Arts & Education Program–Jaxx Nassar, Anthony “Big A” Sherrod and Lee Williams.
The classmates learned from Mr. Johnnie Billington, founder of the Museum’s after-school program, and were members of “The Deep Cuts,” a band fronted by late local bluesman Josh “Razorblade” Stewart.
Arts & Education Program graduate Travis Calvin, a current instructor at the Delta Music Institute at Delta State University, will moderate the panel. Calvin also served as a community representative in Washington, D.C., when Delta Blues Museum was awarded the 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.
The in-person panel, which is free and open to the public, will also be livestreamed on the Museum’s Facebook page by program instructor Walt Busby. Additionally, a small exhibit of photographer Panny Mayfield‘s images of the panelists as students will be on display.
For more than three decades, the Museum’s award-winning Arts & Education program has taught students to play music that keeps the history of the Delta blues alive. Students are taught to play the blues on instruments of their choice–drums, guitars and keyboards are provided by the Museum for use in the classroom and authorized performances. Instructors, many themselves local blues musicians, utilize a classroom environment to allow students to progress from learning the basics of playing music to working together as a band. The program has been recognized nationally as a top youth program and has been elevated in recent news because of the high-profile success of one of its graduates, Grammy-nominated blues musician Christone “Kingfish” Ingram.
The special panel will be held in the Museum classroom on Thursday, August 10, 2023 at 6 pm. Museum Director Shelley Ritter encourages the public to make plans to attend: “We are excited to present this program and reconnect with our former students who now have careers in music. We are so proud of them, and it is a true honor to be a part of their success stories. We are grateful to the Mississippi Humanities Council for helping us document and share their role in Clarksdale’s blues history.”
The Mississippi Humanities Council is a private nonprofit corporation funded by Congress through the National Endowment for the Humanities to provide public programs in traditional liberal arts disciplines to serve nonprofit groups in Mississippi.
For information about the MHC, visit https://mshumanities.org/