In This Issue

2010 After-School Blues Camp
& Blues Extravaganza Recap

Summertime Blues Camp in July!

ABP Hosts First Open House

Rural School Tour Roundup

Advanced Band's Tyler Carter &
Bennett Limbaugh Travel to Germany
for Sister Cities Commission

Blues Festivals this Summer

Alabama Blues Woman:
Elnora Spencer

Alabama Blues Man:
Willie Green

Alabama Receives Historic Marker
on the Mississippi Blues Trail

Alabama Blues Women
New CD Releases & World Tours

Alabama Public Radio Reporter
Brett Tannehill Earns National Award
for Story on Willie King's Funeral

How Can You Help?

From The Top

Dear Friends and Supporters,

It is a red hot and blue summer here in Alabama with so much great blues happening. Things are cooking for sure as our Summertime Blues Camp nears. So many great blues teachers and artists will be sharing their skills with children in our community! Please don't miss the Summertime Open House Blues Cafe on Friday, July 23rd at 1 p.m at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa (113 Hargrove Road).

In these challenging times, we continue to be in need of your support. Our dream of opening a blues museum is closer to reality, and that means we need support more than ever. We are so happy to announce that we are hosting an ABP benefit concert on Thursday, September 16th at the Bama Theatre starring Ruthie Foster! Please mark your calendars and help us spread the word!

Alabama blues is definitely getting attention. We are excited about the unveiling of the first Mississippi to Alabama blues historic marker. This means the world to us, and we hope it will be the beginning of many more to come! As we go to press with this, blues harmonica player and Alabama native Little Sonny is the cover story for the latest Living Blues magazine. We hope we can facilitate Little Sonny's return to Alabama in the coming months. Meanwhile, Alabama bluesman Willie Green is also getting attention as the cover story on the Blues Festival Guide Magazine, and he is featured in this newsletter.

Alabama blues women are strutting their stuff with great live performances and CD releases - particularly from Sweet Claudette and DieDra Hurdle! SharBaby just returned from a very successful European tour. Birmingham based blueswoman Elnora Spencer threw down at Freedom Creek and is the featured interview this newsletter. It was wonderful to see so many Alabama blues women all pull together for a great showcase here in T-town at Little Willie's Jazz and Blues Club, celebrating up-and-coming blues woman Rachel Edwards' 21st birthday.

Our advanced band is also going places, and in fact just got back from their first recording venture at Duck Tape Studio with the great Johnny Sandlin in Decatur, Alabama. Two of our band members got to participate in the Gitarrentage (Guitar Days) Festival in Schorndorf, Germany thanks to Lisa Keys and a partnership with our Sister City organization!

Rural Members Association presented yet another successful Freedom Creek Festival. This is one of so many great Alabama blues festivals around the state, and we hope you'll take the time to check them out.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the oil spill tragedy in the gulf. We pray our leaders will find solutions quickly.

Be sure to visit our online store, as we have many new items! Included is our 2010 Alabama Blues Project t-shirt plus Alabama blues CDs by Dr. G.B. Burt, Microwave Dave, Eddie Kirkland, Little Jimmy Reed, DieDra Hurdle,, Gary Edmonds & The Bridge, and The Brooms. We also have DVDs of Honeydripper available.

Peace and Love ,
Debbie Bond


1st Annual
Johnny Shines
Blues Festival
August 28, 2010



October 1, 2010
5th Annual
Evening of Art & Blues

Jemison-Van de Graaf
Mansion in Tuscaloosa

More details will follow!





September 16, 2010
Bama Theatre
Tuscaloosa, Alabama



2010 Spring After-School Camp
& Third Annual Blues Extravaganza
Story by Cara Lynn Smith


This Spring marked our 13th year of After-School Blues Camp, but it was far from unlucky! From February through April, we had over 60 students ages eight to seventeen gather once a week for a total of 12 sessions in music instruction on their choice of vocals, percussion, harmonica or guitar. As always, we had a wonderful time, and the Blues Camp kids' hard work paid off when they showcased their skills at our third annual Blues Extravaganza. Our students continue to blossom and stay with the program, and we have had to add teachers and volunteers to help us serve our students that are at many different skill levels! We have so many talented and dedicated students now that we have had to add an intermediate band, who had their first full semester of practice! As always, besides our wonderful staff of teachers, we featured special guests - Carroline Shines, B.J. Reed and Dr. Burt - who all performed, shared words of wisdom and met with our students in the class room sharing their blues expertise.


PhotobucketOur advanced band continues to flourish. Fired up from their trip to the Youth Showcase in Memphis, their Spring After-School Blues Camp project was the preparation and recording of a CD containing 10 songs, seven of which are originals written by members of the band! We were so fortunate to be able to have the services of the legendary Johnny Sandlin at Duct Tape Studios in Decatur. Sandlin has recorded many greats including the Allman Brothers Band, Chuck Leavell, Delbert McClinton, Derek Trucks, and Widespread Panic. The CD is now in the mixing process, and we look forward to sharing the final product when it is completed. Special thanks to instructor Brad Guin (who has perfomed with greats such as B.B. King, Bobby Blue Band and Little Milton) for his leadership of the band this semester. You can see the advanced band perform live in Tuscaloosa at the July Jubilee on Independence Day!

PhotobucketAfter just three sessions last Fall, our intermediate band under the leadership of instructor Ben Joseph came out strong this semester! Their ranks grew to 10 members and they mastered a set of blues songs with a funky, rockin' edge: Messin' with the Kid (Junior Wells), Goin' Down (Albert King), Barefootin' (Robert Parker) and I'm a Woman/Man (Willie Dixon). They blew everyone away with their vast improvement this Spring, and nailed their public performance!

The end-of-the-semester culmination was our third annual Blues Extravaganza! We had three Blues Camp bands - beginning, intermediate and advanced - share the stage with Alabama blues veterans Microwave Dave and Bettie Fikes on May 1st at the Northport Civic Center. The festivities were originally planned to take place outside in historic downtown Northport, but due to the threat of weather we moved the party inside. It was a major success, nonetheless! Special thanks to the City of Northport and the Downtown Northport Merchants Association for all of their generous support.

PhotobucketThe Alabama Blues Project would also like to thank all of the people who made our 2010 Spring After-School Blues Camp possible. Our incredible staff of instructors included: Bruce Andrews (harmonica), Herman Bell (harmonica), Debbie Bond (executive director), SharBaby (guitar), B.J. Reed (vocals), Stuart Bond (guitar), Michael London (bass guitar and technical assistance), John Hawkins (guitar), Katie Stewart (guitar), Alex Kaplan (guitar), Jesse Suttle (percussion), Dave Crenshaw (percussion), Ben Joseph (intermediate band), James Brown (bass guitar), James Cunningham (bass guitar) and Brad Guin (advanced band).

PhotobucketWe also have an expert group of youth workers who serve as great mentors for our children. They are Cordell Crawford, Brenda McKanney, Joe Summerville, Valerie Strode and Wes Youngson. Thank you to our wonderful support staff of Victoria Corley, Clare O'Neil, Nichole Martin and Andy Mullins. The Alabama Blues Project also continues to promote healthy lifestyles with the assistance of Dr. Sarita Elizabeth Cox, MSOM, ND, LAc, who provides local, organically grown snacks for the children every week. We are trying to keep our blues green!

We also could not reach the kids without the support of Lakeda Smith and Laura Payton of the YMCA and Tuscaloosa Housing Authority, Bert Young at the Boys & Girls Club, Officer Leatherwood of PALS and MacKenzie Court and Sasha Neu at the Tuscaloosa United Methodist Children's Home. Thank you all!

Blues Camp was funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Alabama State Council on the Arts, as well as the D'Addario Foundation and matching funds from generous individuals and organizations across the world.

If you or someone you know is interesting in our After-School or Summertime Blues Camps, please contact us at (205) 752-6263 or Thank you! 


Summertime Blues Camp Coming in July!

With support from National Endowment on the Arts
and the Alabama State Council on the Arts,
Hampton Inns of Tuscaloosa and the
Captain Carroll Davis Summer Blues Scholarship Fund,
Alabama Blues Project is proud to present . . .


Looking for a way to cure
those Summertime blues?

Alabama Blues Project’s Award Winning
Summertime Blues Camp is here again!

The Alabama Blues Project is seeking out west central Alabama’s future blues musicians for our 2010 ABP Summertime Blues Camp. Blues Camp is an exciting opportunity for students who want to learn how to play blues on harmonica, drums, guitar, bass guitar or vocals at a variety of skill levels. 

Our students are taught hands-on music lessons by some of the best professional blues musicians of our state in guitar, harmonica, singing and drums. Students also learn blues history, song writing, and a life skills curriculum. In addition to music lessons, our Summertime Blues Camp gives students the chance to work with some of the best folk artists in the region who help each student express themselves in a variety of artistic mediums including painting and sculpture. At the end of the week, our budding superstars will treat their family, friends and our community to a performance at an Open House Blues Café. Please mark your calendars and come on out to support these up and coming musicians!

There are many educational benefits of attending blues camp. Musical skills and group performance improves students’ self esteem and teamwork and can further their goals in becoming more involved at school and in their community. The Open House Blues Café at the end of Blues Camp helps introduce a wider audience to Alabama’s living blues culture. Plus, Summertime Blues Camp is loads of fun and many students make lasting friendships.

ABP 2010 Summertime Blues Camp will be held July 19-23 at Covenant Presbyterian Church on Hargrove Road in Tuscaloosa. For more information please contact Cara Smith at (205) 752-6263 or You may also find out much more about our Summertime Blues Camp by clicking here to visit our 2009 review.



Our award-winning blues camps
preserve the blues and pass it on to the
next generation - and we need your help!


The Alabama Blues Project is in its 13th year of award-winning blues camps. The ABP's camps give youth positive ways to express emotions through blues music. The program is a mixture of hands on music instruction taught by professional musicians, a life-skills curriculum, and blues history lessons.

PhotobucketIn the current economic climate, state and federal funding for the arts is being cut nationwide, and the Alabama Blues Project is feeling the effects of those cuts. We are seeking help from individuals and organizations to subsidize the program costs for at-risk children who attend our 2010 Summertime Blues Camp. The registration per child is $200 for the week. Any donation to defray the cost of providing the Alabama Blues Project's Summertime Blues Camp is appreciated! The ABP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed the law.

Click Here to Donate Online to the
Blues Camp Support Fund

or mail your donation* to:
Alabama Blues Project
Blues Camp Support Fund
712 25th Avenue
Northport, AL 35476

* Please make checks payable to Alabama Blues Project

PhotobucketThe ABP makes a special effort to attract at-risk children who might not otherwise have access to arts programming. We partner with the Boys & Girls Club of West Alabama, YMCA, Tuscaloosa Housing Authority, United Methodist Children’s Home, DHR, and Brewer Porch Children’s Center to provide our services to the children in our community who will benefit from them the most. This amazing program is open to other area children of all backgrounds and experience levels. It is our desire to provide children with the opportunity to learn about this important American art form in a diverse, safe, nurturing, and fun environment.



ABP Hosts First Ever Open House
Story by Kim Davis


PhotobucketThe Alabama Blues Project held its first ever open house on May 22, 2010 as part of the Small Towns and Downtowns historic downtown Northport Walking Tour. The event allowed the ABP to open our office to the public and show them where the magic happens. One of the rooms showcased a collection of Alabama blues artifacts that are looking for a permanent home at a living blues museum. Of course, no Alabama Blues Project event would be complete without live blues music. The deck on the back of the house became a stage for Dr. G.B. Burt and the Advanced and Intermediate bands. The day was capped off by an extraordinary jam session between seasoned blues veterans (Little Willie Farmer even came by for a surprise visit!) and younger blues musicians. It was a fitting end to a wonderful day that represented the ABP ’s mission of preserving Alabama’s blues heritage through archiving and showcasing its history, promoting Alabama blues musicians, and passing on that legacy to new generations.

PhotobucketThe day would not have happened without the support of our tireless crew of volunteers. The ABP wishes to thank Ben Joseph for setting up and running sound for the event in addition to leading the intermediate band and chaperoning Dr. Burt. Whitney Jones, Shakieya Faide, Ella Junior, and Meredith Richter acted as docents in our museum room by giving tours to our guests. Our wonderful parent volunteers, Paige Pollack, Carrie Shelby and Liz Dykes, shared their enthusiasm for Blues Camp, and we couldn’t have made it without our resident merchandise guru, Gregg Bell. The lovely snack table was provided by Caroline Carter, and thanks to Cassidy Teague for manning the table. Big thanks also go to Saylor Blankenship who tirelessly helped open house organizer Kim Davis (me) with set-up and the event. Finally, the event could not have happened without the staff of the ABP, Debbie Bond, Rick Asherson, Cara Smith and Rachel Edwards.

The ABP hopes that the success of this event will allow us to continue to periodically hold events at our office. Keep your eyes open for the next one!




Rural Schools Tour Roundup
Story by Rachel Edwards


This 2010 spring semester was a busy and successful one for the Alabama Blues Project's Blues in the Schools programs. The Alabama Blues Project visited eight schools serving a total of 2647 students in rural locations throughout the state of Alabama, completing seven Introduction to the Blues programs: Oakman Elementary (Oakman), Tipton Middle School (Selma), Hayden Middle School (Hayden), Russell Elementary School (Hurtsville), Oliver Elementary School (Seale), Dallas County High School (Plantersville), Salem Elementary School (Orrville); and one School Residency: J.E. Terry Elementary School (Plantersville).

PhotobucketThe Introduction to the Blues is a 45 to 60 minute program comprised of a balanced mixture of performance, lecture, and participation. Students are introduced to the historical and cultural significance of blues music starting from its roots in West African music all the way to modern incarnations. The School Residency is a much longer program that happens over a period of days at the school. The foundation of the team that goes into the schools is Debbie Bond and Rick Asherson, who are often joined by drummer Jesse Suttle, bassist Frank Jordan and new addition vocalist Rachel Edwards. The programs always features a professional touring Alabama blues artist; this semester our two featured artists were: SharBaby, with a Chicago blues sound and Alabama Bluesman Little Lee.

Students are always excited when they see an entire blues band arriving at their school. Unfortunately, most of the schools visited do not have music as part of their regular curriculum. The band kicks off with a number such as Shar's origina,Fl up-tempo blues shuffle Alabama. From there the band members are introduced and students learn how the roots of the blues are a blending of African and European musical influences and how the first acoustic blues was often made on homemade instruments. The band plays a beautiful acoustic version of "Another Man Done Gone" based on a recording by the great Alabama songstress Vera Hall. By this time, the students are all ears as Bond begins to ask them questions on topics she has discussed along with the music they've played; she'll ask "What was the name of first kind of blues made?" Then an awkward but enthusiastic chorus of students replies "COUNTRY BLUES!" The students' reply is the best sound made during the program because it means that they are learning the message that the Alabama Blues Project was made for: promoting and preserving the blues in the state of Alabama. Students learn how there are many blues musicians from our state from the Father of the Blues W.C. Handy to Big Mama Thornton who had a hit with "Hound Dog" before Elvis!

It's a treat when students are pulled to the stage to sing background vocals or play percussion, and every once in a while a kid will come up who can play the drums or the guitar. Student participation is positive reinforcement of support and goodwill when students cheer on their peers, which is important and uplifting to the entire school. By the end of the performance, the students are on their feet dancing, and you might even catch a teacher or two in the mix giving the students a good laugh. All in all, going into the schools is not only spreading the history of the blues in Alabama, but it also works to pull the school closer together as teachers and students can have a closer relationship by meeting in the music and sharing their common enjoyment of the blues.

These program were made possible by the Alabama State Council on the Arts and The Black Belt Arts Education Initiative.



Have music, will travel!

For more information on booking a school residency,
call (205) 752-6263 or email


Advanced Band Members Travel to Germany
for Sister Cities Commission Music Trade

PhotobucketThe Tuscaloosa Sister Cities Commission made it possible for two Tuscaloosa students to participate in the recent Gitarrentage (Guitar Days) Festival in Schorndorf, Germany. The Festival is an annual event in Schorndorf, and musicians from around the world are invited to participate in the weeklong program. Tyler Carter and Bennett Limbaugh, Northridge High School students and members of the Alabama Blues Project Advanced Band, were selected by the Tuscaloosa Sister Cities Commission to participate in this year’s festival in May. The students attended guitar and other workshops and also performed several concerts during their stay. Matthias Tormaehlen of MBUSI, and also the Treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Alabama Blues Project, accompanied the students to Germany and served as their chaperone.

Story by Bennett Limbaugh

I would first like to thank Lisa Keys of the Tuscaloosa Sister Cities Commission and the Alabama Blues Project for making our trip to Germany possible. Tyler Carter, Matthias Tormaehlen, and I went to Schorndorf, Germany from May 8th to the 17th. We participated in the Schordorfer Gittarentage, as they call it, from May 12 through the 16th.

PhotobucketWe participated in the blues class and our teacher was the bluesman Alex Schultz. Although I was the only bass player in the class, I still believe that I was able to benefit from the instruction. Surprisingly, Tyler and I were the youngest people in the class. Apparently, it was somewhat of a big deal for Schorndorf to have two blues guys from Alabama come to the guitar workshop, because I believe our picture was in the local newspaper.

Tyler and I both stayed with separate host families while we were in Schorndorf, Germany, and through them we were able to learn a lot about everyday German life. Having Matthias there was a huge advantage because we were able to have him drive us around, and with him we were able to really take advantage of our time in Germany. I believe I speak on behalf the group when I say how great and thankful we are for our trip to Germany.



Alabama's Summer Blues Festivals
Story by Victoria Corley

W.C Handy Festival (Florence) - July 23 -31

PhotobucketThe W.C. Handy Music Festival is an event held annually in Florence, Alabama and surrounding areas. The annual celebration is a ten-day Festival showcasing music at locations throughout northwest Alabama including parks, restaurants, stores, libraries, museums, art galleries and sidewalks.  It also features athletic events, plays, car shows and much more.  Previous festivals have featured jazz and blues legends including Jimmy Smith, Ramsey Lewis, Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby Blue Bland and Charlie Byrd. In 2007, The W.C. Handy Music Festival was named Alabama’s Event of the Year, and was selected as a “Must See” event on the Year of Arts Destinations Roaster.

Magic City Blues Society Battle of the Blues Bands (Birmingham) - July 25

PhotobucketA day of fun and Blues! The best Blues bands in Alabama will gather to compete in the 2010 Battle of Blues Bands contest. The event will be held at Old Car Heaven on Sunday, July 25, at 2:00 pm. The winners will be booked for paying gigs, playing for Magic City Blues Society events. These winners will also be eligible to compete in the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis in early 2011.

Fairfield Music Festival - August 7

Celebrate Fairfield and the Year of Small Towns and Downtowns with a variety of jazz, blues, R&B and gospel music in Fairfield's historic downtown. Call (205) 369-1757 for more information.

Sloss Furnace Stokin' the Fire (Birmingham) - August 20-21

PhotobucketThe 6th annual Stokin' the Fire BBQ & Music Festival is a two-day world-class event. Sanctioned by the prestigious Kansas City Barbeque Society, the competition offers visitors and competitors to sample over 72 professional BBQers from around the country and as many as 50 local amateur BBQ teams. In addition to chowing down on great BBQ, visitors can enjoy all day music at the Stokin' stage. Kids will also have plenty of fun with activities especially for them. This festival has something for everyone!

Black Belt Folk Roots Festival (Eutaw) - August 28-29 

The Black Belt Folk Roots Festival is an annual event held in Eutaw, Alabama on the last weekend in August. The festival is organized by The Society of Folk Arts and Culture. This event is a unique celebration which brings together the community, musicians, dancers, storytellers, food specialists and artists who are considered bearers of the traditions and folkways of the West Alabama region. The festival also showcases handmade quilts, baskets, crafts, home-cooked soul food, fish dishes and homemade ice cream. The day is celebrated with blues and gospel music on the Historic Greene County Courthouse Square.


Historical Legendary Blues Festival (Bessemer) - July 11


Sam Phillips Music Celebration (Florence in January)
Mobile Mardi Gras (Mobile in February)
Sucarnochee Folklife Festival (Livingston in April)
The Old 280 Boogie (Waverly in April)
Southern Crossroads (Athens in April)
Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival (Moulton in April)
Freedom Creek Festival (Old Memphis in May)
Old School Festival (Huntsville in May)

Elnora Spencer, Birmingham George Conner,
Alabama Blues Project, Big Joe Shelton,
Debbie Bond, Caleb Childs, Mudcat & more!



Alabama Blues Woman: Elnora Spencer
Story by Rachel Edwards

PhotobucketThe 2010 Freedom Creek audience could tell that Adamsville native Elnora Spencer was going to put on an outstanding show. Spencer’s lead guitarist and background vocalist kicked off her set with electrifying guitar playing and smooth vocals during “I’ll Play the Blues for You.” When Spencer took the stage she wowed the crowd with her rich vocals and improvisations on classic songs like “If Loving You is Wrong” and “Down Home Blues” before moving the crowd to their feet with her demanding playful stage presence during “Shade Tree Mechanic”.

PhotobucketI was dazzled by Spencer’s performance and my respect for Spencer was fortified when I had the chance to interview her after the performance. Spencer has been singing since she was four-years-old. As a performer, Spencer had no anxiety with performing with other artists but simply described it as staying true to herself and finding her niche. When asked what the blues meant to her she said, “It’s Life, it’s really the story of life. Everyone has been through what the songs are singing about. I sing it and I live it!” Spencer has shared the stage with artists such as B.B. King, Little Milton, and Bobby Rush. Her three CD releases have received critical acclaim, and her other credits include a Number One Blues Vocal on the MP3 charts. Spencer is also a folk artist expressing herself through angelic and historic paintings.

Elnora Spencer is truly one of a kind expressing herself audibly with her voice and visually through her art. One can see exactly why the Diamond of Alabama, Elnora Spencer, shines with clarity on and off the stage.




Alabama Blues Man: Willie Green
Story by Victoria Corley

PhotobucketHaving lived most of his life in relative obscurity, Alabama bluesman Willie Green is getting long overdue international attention! Born 1935 to a family of sharecroppers and migrant workers, Willie began playing the blues while living on a plantation in rural Alabama.

Pine Level is 32 Miles southeast of Montgomery where an old country store, a few houses and a church still stand marking the spot that is his tiny home town. Green grew up poor and worked hard for many years in the farm fields as a migrant agricultural worker moving throughout the south especially in Alabama and Florida. Throughout this time he played local juke joints and house parties.

Green talks of the times when he could not afford to buy a guitar but always dreamt of having one. Remembering his first guitar, he describes an instrument he created out of wood, string and a nail. Like so many blues players, like late Alabama bluesman Willie King Green began his foray into the blues on his homemade Didley-Bo. Green says of his homespun guitar that he could make a “little tune, but it wasn’t good enough to make good sound.” In his interviews, he states that the hardest thing about playing is actually learning how to play. “Playing is no joke,” he says, and that it was "something that you just have to learn.” Green worried that he did not have enough education to learn how to play, but then he realized that his level of education did not control his soul or skill; he says “education can’t stop your fingers from doing what you want to do.” Green always knew what he wanted to do and how he wanted to play; he has stayed true to himself and it has paid off in a big way.

PhotobucketEventually Willie settled in Ocala, Florida. Willie has a regular gig at the well-known Yearling Restaurant in Cross Creek, Florida, where you can hear him play his blues most Friday and Saturday nights.

You can find video of Willie Green on the steps on an old fading house sharing his music that is full of life. In interviews on the mainstream site, YouTube, Green shares stories of hard times and good ole days spent playing in juke joints.

In 2004, blues fan and musician Rick Ambrose became friends with Willie Green. Over time Rick decided to help promote Willie, and slowly but surely Willie has been receiving more prestigious gigs. Most recently, Green was featured on the cover of the 2010 Blues Festival Guide. The annual Blues publication is a free magazine that offers entertaining editorials, festival guides, trivia, cuisine and much more. The magazine is in its eighth year of publication and has a circulation of approximately 100,000.

Along with his recent success of being on the cover of the 2010 Blues Festival Guide, Green has played with many great blues legends including John Hammond Jr., Charlie Musselwhite, "Honeyboy" Edwards and show opener for Robert Cray, Derek Trucks, Eric Clapton, and more. In November, Willie Green will be opening for The Blind Boys of Alabama at the Linconsville Blues Festival and St. Augustine Florida.

Wille Green Interview Part One

Willie Green Interview Part Two

Willie Green Video Track 1

Willie Green Music Video 2

For more information please contact Rick Ambrose

(904) 333-0539


Alabama Receives Historic Marker
on the Mississippi Blues Trail

PhotobucketThe Alabama Blues Project is SO happy to announce the unveiling of the first Mississippi/Alabama Blues Historic Marker. The Mississippi Blues Trail added a historic marker in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on the grounds of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame on January 6, 2010, to salute the musical association between Mississippi and Alabama. We hope that this is the begriming of many more such collaborative markers!

“The marker acknowledges the many decades of musical connection between Mississippi and Alabama and particularly those that took place in the studios of the Muscle Shoals area,” said Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. “Previous Mississippi Blues Trail markers have been dedicated in Chicago, Illinois, Memphis, Tennessee and Helena, Arkansas to recognize the great influence of Mississippi Blues beyond the state’s borders.”

The history of cross-border musical exchanges between Mississippi and Alabama go back to the earliest years of the blues. Florence, Alabama, native W. C. Handy, later known as the “Father of the Blues,” encountered the blues while working in the Mississippi Delta in the early 1900s, and it’s likely that Meridian, Mississippi, native Jimmie Rodgers, the “Father of Country Music,” first heard the blues while working on a medicine show traveling to Birmingham, Alabama. Other important artists who have lived and/or worked in both states include Jerry “Boogie” McCain, Big Joe Williams, Willie King and Lucille Bogan.

The establishment of multiple recording locations in the Muscle Shoals region began in 1959 when Tishimingo County, Mississippi, native Rick Hall opened his Fame studio. On his own Fame label, Hall recorded many Mississippians, including George Jackson, who wrote many hit songs that were recorded in Muscle Shoals. Out-of-state record companies that used Muscle Shoals area studios to record Mississippi-associated artists included Stax (Albert King, Staple Singers) and Atlantic (Otis Rush and Otis Clay). Other Mississippi natives whose recordings were made here, either fully or partially, included B. B. King, Furry Lewis, and Bobbie Gentry. In 1985 Jackson-based Malaco Records, co-owned by Tuscumbia native Tommy Couch, Sr., purchased the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Sheffield, and used the studio to record artists including Mississippi natives Little Milton Campbell, Artie “Blues Boy” White and Dorothy Moore.

The Mississippi Blues Trail markers are funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and by support from the Colbert County Tourism and Convention Bureau in Tuscumbia, Alabama, and the Mississippi Development Authority.


Alabama Blues Women CDs & Tours

PhotobucketSweet Claudette, the Detroit-based blues artist, soul-singer and Heflin, Alabama native, will be represented by Windmill Music, a group located in Staten Island, New York. Sweet Claudette has received radio airplay throughout the country and the world. Sweet Claudette charted #17 in Living Blues magazine!

Her 2009 release ''That Man's Got To Go" remained on the Roots Music Airplay Charts for 11 months. She is returning to the studio this summer, teaming up with husband and drummer Greg Manning, saxophonist Marty Montgomery and jazz & blues pianist/keyboardist Fred Scott for her latest recording effort.

"That Man's Got To Go" is hitting Airplay playlists
across the US, Canada, Australia, France & Italy!

"Sweet Claudette" Harrell-Manning has performed at the Willie King Freedom Creek Festival and the Magic City Blues Festival (both in Alabama) for several years, as well as Veterans Haven Fundraiser, several centers for the Mentally and Physically Challenged Adults, Hot Blues & BBQ, Heatstock, Port Huron Jazz & Blues Festival and Selfridge Air Force Base’s Family Appreciation Day, to name a few.

“Claudette is the epitome of Detroit finger-snapping party blues, but she’s
also a master at the low down. “- Mark E. Gallo, BluesByte, June 2009.

Sweet Claudette is one of the best creative "unsung" songwriters in the Midwest. Her blues songs run the gamut of funky, country, jazzy, classic up-tempo and slow blues feel.

“Sweet Claudette is a sultry, deep-voiced singer and songwriter . . .”
- George Fish in the February 2009, Illinois Blues Blast E-Zine.

Sweet Claudette fronts a five to six piece band with wonderful rich horns intertwined into her music. Dubbed "Detroit's Matriarch of the Blues," Sweet Claudette has achieved local, regional, national and international status while singing the blues to fans in bars, clubs and lounges from Michigan to Alabama and Windsor to Burlington, Ontario Canada. Sweet Claudette enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with youngsters through a Math In Music Program she personally created, as part of the Blues In The Schools (B.I.T.S.) offering. Sweet Claudette has recorded thirty-six original songs.

PhotobucketSharBaby, “The Little Woman with the Big Voice” from Birmingham,, recently completed a very successful tour of the United Kingdom!
A local review of SharBaby by Crackerjack in Bristol stated, “. . . the singer from Alabama is such a hugely charismatic performer who would dominate any stage . . . And she delivered a set of songs that were raw, straightforward, foot-stomping 12-bar blues straight out of the Chicago juke joints. She opened with Jimmy Reed’s ‘Bright Lights Big City’ and it was amazing that such a huge and relative deep voice should come from such a tiny figure.” 

In Bristol, U.K., SharBaby performed at The Prom, The Royal Oak, Bristol Jazz Club, The Coronation Tap and The Lands Down. She also put on shows at Goin’ Up The Country Blues and Roots Club (Wrexham, U.K.), Appleton Thorn Village Hall (Appleton Warrington, Wales), The Resnova (Dartmouth, U.K.), The Beach (Clevedon, U.K.), Brooks Blues Bar The Putney Heath (London, U.K.), Palladium Club (Bidford, U.K.) and two days at the East Holland Blues Festival in Nofolk, U.K.

Story by Victoria Corley

Photobucket DieDra Hurdle is a powerhouse singer whose determination to establish her own sound and career has earned her the name “Blues Diva.” Throughout her musical career, Hurdle has experienced challenges but has never given in to becoming something that she did not want to be. Her two CD releases, "Overcoming Hurdles" and "Livin' the Bluz," symbolize the journey that created the artist she is today.

Born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, Hurdle has been sharing her god-given talent of singing with others all of her life. She began her musical career at the age of nine, when she performed as lead vocalist in a family singing group. Even at an early age, she was inspired by great vocalists like Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and Pattie Labelle.

Hurdle began her professional career in 1996 when she signed to the late Charlie Cross’s management company. Two years later, in 1998, she signed to Boogie Down Production in New York. For the next 10 years, Hurdle waited out an unproductive contract with Big East Entertainment. Keith Ruff was assigned to produce her first record with the company, but nothing came of it. Hurdle never lost hope when most people would and some 10 years later, Hurdle received a call from Ruff asking her to sign on with his new Ruff Pro Records. One month after signing with Ruff, Hurdle's album, "Overcoming Hurdles," was born.

"Overcoming Hurdles" is a mix of R&B soul, beach, and traditional blues music. Her following album, "Livin' the Bluz," has a more traditional and soul blues feel. Her music has appeared on the Carolina Beach Music Top 40; her song “Hip Swinging Blues” reached number five, and “Dance the Night Away” reached number 20.

During her career, Hurdle has opened for Betty Wright, Avant, Al Green, Carl Thomas, Sunshine Anderson and Bobby Rush. In April 2010, she performed for approximately 4,000 viewers at S.O.S. Hurdle says that her favorite gig was the 2009 Alabama/Auburn football game, where she performed at halftime.

It’s true to say that “Blues Diva” DieDra has overcome hurdles and now she is indeed "Livin' the Bluz."


On June 21, 2010, Little Willie's in Tuscaloosa hosted
an Alabama Blues Women "Wang Dang Doodle!"
A night to remember, it featured Sweet Claudette, SharBaby,
Debbie Bond, Carroline Shines and Rachel Edwards.
We were also treated to a surprise visit by DieDra, Keith
Ruff and Clay Swafford! Backing the fabulous women were
Rick Asherson on keyboards & harmonica, Michael
Cogan on saxophone, James Brown on bass guitar,
and Jesse Suttle holding down the tight percussion!


Alabama Public Radio Reporter
Brett Tannehill Earns National Award
for Story on Willie King's Funeral
Story by Victoria Corley

PhotobucketRecently Brett Tannehill, an Alabama Native, won a 2010 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award and a 2010 National RTDNA/UNITY Award for his audio feature report on Alabama bluesman Willie King's Funeral.

The Regional Edward R. Murrow Award is given by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTNDA) and is to honor outstanding achievements in electronic journalism. The second award Tannehill and Tuscaloosa's Alabama Public Radio staff won for this report, the National RTDNA/UNITY Award is awarded to journalists who share a commitment to achieving diversity in the newsroom through developing news content and editorial staffs that reflect the changing face of America.

Tannehill truly earned these prestigious awards. His piece on King's funeral is a moving report that gives listeners a sense of who King really was. The report features interviews of King, his music, and loving words from friends and family. In the report, one can actually feel the amount of love King shared with everyone in his life and in his hometown of Aliceville, Alabama.

Click here to hear Brett Tannehill’s Audio
Feature Report on the Willie King Funeral



Story by Cara Lynn Smith

Do you surf the net? Do you use Facebook?
Do you shop online? You can help the ABP!

PhotobucketFirst of all, the quickest and easiest way to help the ABP is by clicking here and donating $10 right now. It will take less than five minutes and is the price of a night out at the movies. I encourage everyone reading this newsletter to take a little of your time to do this and pass along the link to your friends. This quick and easy donation to the ABP could raise matching funds required for our 2009-10 Blues Camp grants within a week. How incredible would that be? You can even do it as many times as you like!

GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!Yahoo has teamed up with to donate a penny to your cause every time you search the web. This is totally free as the money comes from advertisers. Whenever you do an online search (and don't we all?), use, designate us as your non-profit of choice, and raise funds for the Alabama Blues Project! You can even put a search bar on your browser for convenience, and make it your homepage. To give you a sense of how the money can add up, the ASPCA has already earned more than $23,000! There are approximately 6,000 people on the ABP email list. If everyone did two searches a day, that would generate $3600 for the Alabama Blues Project in just one month!

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!Also, more than 900 of the top Internet retail and travel sites including Amazon, eBay, Target, Apple, Expedia and more have joined forces with to donate part of every purchase to your favorite charity or school at no additional cost to you (more than 72,000 nonprofits are now on-board - including the Alabama Blues Project)! Anytime you go to shop online, go through GoodShop, enter the Alabama Blues Project as your non-profit of choice, and a donation will be made to us. If you're going to buy online anyway, why not help the ABP while you do it?

The Internet continues to grow, and more and more online organizations are helping non-profits raise funds. The Alabama Blues Project has joined Firstgiving and GuideStar as well as started a Facebook page and a "Support the Alabama Blues Project" Facebook cause (powered by Firstgiving). This is new for the ABP, and in just a couple of months we have raised over $700 - but the sky is the limit! By joining up with us and spreading the word over the Internet to all of your friends, you can help the Alabama Blues Project tremendously! Donations are tax-deductible!

Over 1.8 million people have helped raise over $99 million for 26,339 non-profits using Firstgiving. Click here to see my personal Firstgiving page and make your own! There are plenty of places to spread the word: Click here for 99 websites to share your fundraising page. This is a fun and easy way to help the ABP!

PhotobucketHow many of you throw away your ink cartridges because you don't know where to recycle them? The Alabama Blues Project has a way to save the environment and save money on our operating costs. Simply place your empty inkjet and deskjet cartridges in an envelope and send it to our office at 712 25th Avenue, Northport, AL 35476. We will take care of recycling it and earn $3 per cartridge toward our office supply expenses. The ABP and Mother Earth thanks you!

PhotobucketWe have some wonderful Alabama Blues merchandise at our Online Store! The classic black Tee has always been in demand, and now we have a new Navy design! Also, get your musical fix with our Blues from the Heart of Dixie compilation CD and download an MP3 of Debbie Bond & The Crème Brulées' hit "Mary's Cakes." The newest item is our tasty Alabama Blues Blend coffee! A product of Higher Ground, this delicious treat is 100% organic and Fair Trade. In addition to ABP goods, you can buy and sell eBay items and donate to the Alabama Blues Project through Mission Fish. Don't forget the ABP for gift-giving!

PhotobucketWant a fun and easy way for your workplace to support the Alabama Blues Project? That $5 you found in your pocket can buy you the chance to shed your business suit and wear blues jeans to the office while supporting a great cause! How does it work? Be a coordinator at your office and collect $5 from each participating employee in exchange for the opportunity to wear blues jeans to work on a specified day. This is a fashion statement with a cause! Inviting staff to wear their favorite pair of blue jeans to work for a "casual Friday" is a fun and comfortable way to generate good feelings for both staff and customers. We can provide promotional flyers to you that will provide customers information regarding your company’s generosity and commitment to the Alabama Blues Project.  Please contact Cara Smith at (205) 752-6263 or if you would like to host a "Blue Jeans for the Blues!"




Our programs are made possible by the generous support of our sponsors, including the National Endowment for the Arts, Alabama State Council on the Arts, The Crooks Foundation, Bonnie Raitt, Mercedes Benz, Harrison Galleries LLC and The Jim I. Harrision Family Foundation, Jim Walter Resources, Kwik Kopy Printing, Nick's Kids Fund, The Reese Phifer Jr. Memorial Foundation, The D'Addario Foundation for the Performing Arts, Hampton Inns of Tuscaloosa, Barkley GMC, Hohner, McAbee Construction, Banks Quarles Plumbing & Heating, Jim Myers Drug, Covenant Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa , First United Methodist Church of Tuscaloosa, Hohner, Fender, Manna Grocery, db Tech, Fender Music Foundation, Yvonne & Leslie Pollack Foundation, Tuscaloosa Consortium for Higher Education, United Way of West Alabama, Zildjian, and many other kind organizations and individuals.