(CLARKSDALE, MS) – National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $80 million in grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $10,000 to Delta Blues Museum for the creation of a new music CD showcasing the Museum’s award-winning Student Band. The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts.
“The variety and quality of these projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Through the work of organizations such as Delta Blues Museum, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.”
The grant will fund the production of a new recording of Museum Band students performing eight to ten blues songs. This will be the third CD to feature the Museum Band and will include a public performance upon the CD release. Additionally, the Museum will host a release party in the Juke Joint Chapel at the Shack Up Inn to promote the record and the Arts and Education program. Heath Sitton, sound engineer for the Juke Joint Chapel, will record the live performance to be used as a learning tool for the students and may be released at a later date as a “live” album.
Museum Director Shelley Ritter says she is pleased the NEA is supporting the work of the student band and the developing talents of the young artists involved. “Proceeds from CD sales help keep our program funded,” offers Ritter. “This project furthers our overall mission to preserve and perpetuate ‘the blues.’ Through the program, our students learn how to use their talents to support themselves, should they choose to pursue a career in the music business as a performer or behind the scenes.”
As a recent “special guest” artist featured in performance with the student band, Grammy winner Charlie Musselwhite believes in the power of the Museum’s program. “The Delta Blues Museum’s Arts and Education Program has been a tremendous force in teaching music to local students. This program gives these kids confidence in their abilities and shows them not only how to play their instruments but also how to be professional and work together as an ensemble. It thrills me to see a youngster get onstage and play from their heart the music they love. This training provided by the Museum is really an invaluable asset to the community. I can’t emphasize strongly enough how important this music instruction is: It has become a major positive force among the children of Clarksdale in so many ways.”
For additional images or information about the Museum’s Arts and Education program or other initiatives, please contact Museum Director Shelley Ritter via 662-627-6820 or email.