Blues in the Schools
The Chicago Blues Foundation has developed and offers the Blues on the Schools program for school-aged children. By passing the tradition down to the next generation, the Foundation hopes to preserve the tradition. Even if the kids don't assume the mantle, the program exposes them to an important musical style and its cultural history. It is well known that learning music improves math and language skills, which are core educational objectives. The Foundation also notes that the the effort "break[s] down racial barriers and open[s] dialogue about cultural diversity."
Each year, a group of elementary school students shows attendees of the Chicago Blues Festival what they have learned. Whether or not the next Muddy Waters, Lonnie Baker, or Guy Clark Jr. emerges from the program won't be known for at least a decade or two. In the meantime, the kids are having a rollicking good time. If nothing else, I suspect we will see many of these kids in the audience in future years.
Pictured are two elementary school kids performing as part of a group of 25 or so students on the Mississippi Juke Joint Stage. The kid on the right was belting out Sweet Home Chicago, with able assistance on the blues harp by the kid on the left. The two were not always in unison with the group, but they were very enthusiastic.
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