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Presented by The Blues Foundation
Ode to the Blues World 2003 |
May 22, 2003
by Gloria L. Pierce
Flying high over North Carolina, peeking through the clouds wearing my beloved Luther Allison black and pink Reckless jacket, thinking of the last time I went to Memphis for the W. C. Handy Awards in 1998, I can’t help but pause over the tremendous loss the Blues world felt at that time. For me it was personal with the loss of Luther Allison and Junior Wells – but there were so many more that passed in that time period. I think of the lost souls and the touch of God, I stare at the clouds ----- is there some sign of God or spirituality to reach out to --- to hold on to ---- to pull us together? If it is so, surely He looks after his beloved music home of Memphis, TN.
For it is in and around Memphis, in the deep muddy waters of the great Mississippi River and all of its roots leading elsewhere --- that America’s true music began. And so I start my journey again---back to The Blues Foundation’s Handy Awards in 2003. I go with much hope and trepidation wondering how do we save our hearts? How do we reach our young people --- to turn them on to this music that is so strong and healing, so exhilarating coming from the lives of people --- from their personal struggles and emotions --- playing and singing in a way that “builds up” and “releases” and gives us the strength to carry on? Our youth of today are on another page and it has become our mission, as the elders of the Blues world, to ensure that we educate and pass the torch – through our words and through our promotion of young and old artists.
On my flight is a Handy Award nominee – dressed in dark clothing with dreadlocks piled up on his head. I do not know him personally but know that he is Corey Harris, and he is a shinning new star. I overhear an interview and at first, before I realize who he is, I wonder, do I try to listen? He doesn’t look like the blues musicians I am used to seeing, but then I have to ask myself, is that the problem? Does someone have to look a certain way? The music must evolve and we with it. Yet, as it evolves and it needs to, I will still fight to hold on to the roots of this music, from all that we feel, all that we need to share and all that we need to laugh about. Once it gets inside, you are hooked for life and this is a good thing!
As the plane is ready to land, I look to my adventure with anticipation and love to the city of Memphis, to the people who all come together from all over the world, to celebrate in these yearly awards for the best of the Blues world and in sharing our passionate love of this enduring music called BLUES!
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