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Blessissippi Crossroads Concert

by Judy Smith

The muddy waters of the Mighty Mississippi and the fertile soil of the Delta can be thanked for giving birth to so much of the world’s culture and music. In our little corner of the world in Clarksdale, Mississippi, the blues were born, and lovers of this classic form of music are constantly being drawn back to this homeland of music.

“American music – blues, R&B, country, jazz – the roots of our music all comes from the Delta,” says Jerry Cope, producer for the philanthropic media organization Explore.org. “Personally, I think the Earth moves under your feet in Mississippi and the birth of American music here was not accidental.”

It seems appropriate that the national spotlight will be trained on the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, owned by esteemed actor Morgan Freeman and Clarksdale attorney Bill Luckett (pictured below), as they play host to an amazing celebration of the blues this weekend.  On April 28, Explore.org, Freeman and the Ground Zero Blues Club will host an epic evening of blues music, titled “America’s Delta Blues: The Blessissippi Crossroads Concert.”

The title comes from Explore.org founder and philanthropist Charlie Annenberg Weingarten, who felt the name of the state should be changed because he felt so blessed by the “love, kindness and intelligence” of the people he met there. This Saturday promises to be a night that will go down in blues music history, as some of the hottest and most talented blues musicians take the stage. (Weingarten’s documentary film about his travels through the Delta region and the importance of the blues around the world will be shown at a special VIP reception on Friday night).

The warm Delta night will come alive with soulful sounds and the cry of heartfelt guitar riffs. Gracing the stage during this star-studded three-hour event will be Bobby Keys and Sugar Blue of The Rolling Stones, Bill Payne of Little Feat, Grammy-nominated Maria Muldaur, James “Super Chikan” Johnson and many more. But don’t lose heart if you can’t make it to the Delta in time. The concert will be simulcast online at www.Explore.org, on XM Radio’s Bluesville channel and on Link TV.

Plus, this event is for a very worthy cause. After Weingarten toured the Delta, he saw great promise in the musical education programs at the Delta Blues Museum. He believes  more programs such as these need to be developed and supported to educate future generations on this powerful form of music. The Annenberg Foundation has offered its support to the cause, along with major industry names, such as Gibson guitars, Canon, Pearl and Peavy, who’ve provided an array of items for auction and merchandise to be given away to listeners and viewers for their support.

“Music is the soundtrack to our life and follows us everywhere we go,” says Weingarten. “By giving underprivileged kids the chance to pursue their dreams of working within the music industry, we are giving them a chance to not only change their lives, but to possibly change ours too.”

A special VIP reception will be held at the Delta Blues Museum on April 27, with the concert at Ground Zero from 8 p.m.-midnight on April 28. General admission is $45, and VIP tickets $150. Order tickets here or call 662-627-6820. To watch from home, visit explore.org or LinkTV. You can also follow @Blessissippi on Twitter. 

Judy Smith is a freelance writer living in Laurel, Mississippi. Her work has been featured  in South Mississippi Living, The Talon Magazine and Beach Boulevard Magazine, and she also writes an insider blog on things to do in Jackson for VisitSouth.com. Read her Deep South article on the Natchez Trace here

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