(JACKSON, MS) – In the midst of the COVID-19
pandemic, Mississippi’s Cathead Distillery has shifted their operations to
produce hand sanitizer. Today, it expanded its support of the arts nonprofit
Music Maker Relief Foundation by sending their elderly partner artists bottles
of their Comfort and Mercy hand sanitizer. The partnership between the
distillery and the nonprofit has thrived for over 10 years.
The need among Music Maker Relief Foundation
partner artists is dire. These artists are over the age of 55, living in
poverty, and have had their shows canceled for the foreseeable future. Ester
Mae Wilbourn, Robert Lee Coleman, Mary Lane and Chuck Bush are four of the elder
musicians that will receive hand sanitizer from Cathead.
Based in Como, MS, Ester Mae Wilbourn is the
eldest member of the Como Mamas (Daptone Records). Ester recently had a new
roof put on her house with the help of Music Maker and is glad to be in a safe
place during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Guitar hero Robert Lee Coleman is based in
Macon, GA and formerly played with James Brown and Percy Sledge. He was slated
to play with the Music Maker Blues Revue at Jazz Fest for the very first time
but the festival has been postponed to the fall of 2020 with no firm dates in
place. Additionally, all of Coleman’s local gigs have been canceled. He’s been
featured in Premier Guitar and was gifted a PRS guitar by Paul Reed
Born in 1936, in Clarendon, Arkansas, Mary
Lane grew up picking cotton until moving to Chicago where she quickly became a
staple on the Westside Blues scene, playing alongside greats such as Howlin’
Wolf, Elmore James, and Junior Wells. In 2019, Mary released the album Travelin’
Woman; was the focus of a feature length documentary about her life and
struggles; and was featured on NPR Weekend Edition.
Lafayette based Zydeco legend Chuck Bush will
also receive the much-needed hand sanitizer. Last week Chuck tested positive
for COVID-19 after being hospitalized with pneumonia. He is back home now and
expected to make a full recovery. The hand sanitizer will help prevent Chuck
from spreading the disease further.
Music Maker Relief Foundation is further
helping these musicians by providing grants for lost performances, grocery
deliveries, and emergency funding as needed.
Cathead is rooted in respect for blues
culture. The term “Cathead” is a compliment in Mississippi, first coined back
in the day by blues musicians as a nod to artists they respect. Mississippi
artists and musicians went on to use “Catheads” in many forms of folk art, as a
way to pay the rent and share their legacies.