Dear Friends

This year has been packed and full of exciting programs and progress for our organization and we are looking forward to our continued growth next year. This newsletter contains news of our most recent activities as well as some of our other ongoing events.

1. Summerdale School Residency - a wonderful program at the excellent Summerdale Road School in Summerdale, near Mobile, Alabama

2. Blues Women Exhibition - news and photos of our traveling exhibition Red, Hot and Blues: Spotlight on Alabama Blues Women

3. After-School Blues Camp - including news of the upcoming performance of our advanced band in Memphis, as part of the Blues Foundation's Keeping The Blues Alive award ceremony

4. Willie King - news of this great Alabama bluesman's most recent music award nominations and how you may be able to help him win!

5. Vera Hall - this is your last chance to give a tax-deductible donation for a historic marker to honor this legendary Alabama musician

The Alabama Blues Project is funded by grants and donations from many individuals and organizations, and we are very thankful to each and every one who has helped us throughout the year. We would especially like to thank the generous ongoing support from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Children's Trust Fund of Alabama, and the National Endowment for the Arts. These organizations have given tremendous ongoing assistance to our after-school and summertime blues camp, "Blues in Schools" programs, and educational exhibitions. We very much appreciate the excellent work of these organizations in promoting the arts and art education in the state of Alabama.



Many thanks to you all for your generous support and interest which helped make 2005 such a wonderful year for our organization.

With best wishes for the new year

Debbie Bond, Director


Summerdale School Residency

We just returned from a wonderful six-week residency at Summerdale School which is in Summerdale, near Mobile, Alabama. Students followed a blues curriculum which was a mix of hands-on music instruction and history/social studies in the story of the blues. Students learned about the blending of African and European musical cultures that created the blues, and how despite African music and languages being banned during slavery times, the melodies and rhythms of African musical culture survived and helped shape contemporary American music. The curriculum continues in a time-line which follows the evolution of country blues along with sharecropping and Jim Crow in the southern states, through the Great Migration, the commercialization of the music industry, and the urbanizing of the blues. Students interacted with, and had music lessons from, blues musicians Willie King, Caroline Shines, Debbie Bond and Rick Asherson . The residency also included an oral history, journalism, art and photography components. Finally, we ended with a wonderful blues extravaganza final performance of the students blues band along with Caroline Shines, Debbie Bond, Rick Asherson, Ralph Lusian and Mobile drummer Lamar Merchant. 

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Blues Women Exhibition

In January we declared 2005 the year of Alabama Blues Women and launched our traveling educational exhibition Red Hot and Blue: a Spotlight on Alabama Blues Women. The exhibition showcases a slice of Alabama's rich blues history and has impacted a large audience of both children and adults around the state of Alabama.

Most recently it was presented by the Mobile Arts Council as part of the city festival called Arts Alive!, where Alabama blues women Caroline Shines and Lil Greenwood also entertained the audiences in the streets to make sure folks know that Alabama blues women are still alive and kicking and passing on our rich blues heritage. The exhibition is going to continue traveling next year together with live shows at festivals, libraries and other community events next year. So watch this space to find out where it will be in a program near you!


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After-School Blues Camp

Our, Tuscaloosa, Alabama based, after-school program and summer camp has continued to be a huge success. Early in the year forty new students began learning the blues from area blues musicians. These students were drawn from our local housing authority, children's homes, and the wider community. Thanks to funding from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Children's Trust Fund, and many individual donors, we are offering this program again next year. Our summer camp impacted our advanced students who continued through the fall advancing their musical skills and performing in the local community. We were very proud and honored to add blues woman B.J. Miller to our instructors this fall. B.J. is a fantastic singer, keyboard, and trombone player and was able to add so much to the musical experience of these serious students. Also new to the team is Dennis Dunn, a wonderful professional percussionist and music teacher in the Tuscaloosa school system.

We are all very excited that the students will be traveling to Memphis and performing as part of the Blues Foundation's Keeping the Blues Alive Award ceremonies.This will take place on January 28, at the Double Tree Hotel, where you will be able to see these wonderful, talented students live and in person. If you are interested in this event, please contact Jay Sieleman at the Blues Foundation on 901-527-2583.


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Willie King

We are very excited to let you know that it has been another amazing year for Alabama blues man Willie King who has been nominated for two major awards from the Blues Foundation's prestigious Blues Music Awards, the Grammy's of the blues. Willie King, who is known as the "Bob Marley of the Blues," creates his own unique brand of juke joint, irresistible dance grooves with a positive messages of peace and love. Willie has been nominated for Best Traditional Blues Artist of the Year and Traditional Album of the Year for his 2005 release Jukin at Bettie's. If you are a member of the Blues Foundation please support Alabama blues and vote for this great Alabama blues artist. If you are not a member please join now! 

Willie also traveled for the first time out of the country this year and played to very enthusiastic audiences in Cognac, France, at the Cognac Blues Festival . Also at the festival was our new Alabama blues musician friend Adolphus Bell with his one man band. Thanks again to the Music Maker Foundation for making the trip happen!  


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ABP Vera Hall Memorial Fund


The Alabama Blues Project has established a fund to honor the life and music of Vera Hall. Proceeds from this fund will be used to purchase a historical marker to be placed in Livingston near the cemetery where Vera Hall lies buried in an unmarked grave. The Vera Hall Memorial Fund is in collaboration with the Sumter County Historical Society in Livingston, Alabama, who will help with the design, placement and funding of this important project. The goal of this endeavor is to honor and help bring attention to the life and artistry of Vera Hall, and bring the rich music culture of the Alabama Black Belt region to a wider audience. So far we have raised about 65% of the amount needed.

The Alabama Blues Project is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization and all contributions to this fund are tax deductible. If you would like to help, please send your contribution to:

The Vera Hall Memorial Fund
Alabama Blues Project
2620 2nd Street East
Tuscaloosa, AL 35404

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