Coming soon to Louisville is a photo exhibit, a public reception for it, and a Blues concert, all to benefit a great cause. It’s put together by The Music Maker Relief Foundation and there are a series of events surrounding it. We talked with Julie Purcell who is the Programming Coordinator for The Clifton Center where it will all take place. A public reception for the opening of Our Living Past: A Platinum Portrait of Music Maker will be held November 3rd from 5:30-7:00 PM, and the FREE Blues Revue concert is November 17th at 8:00 PM.

What is the Music Maker Relief Foundation?
The Music Maker Relief Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit, founded to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time. Since 1994, the Music Maker Relief Foundation has assisted over 300 artists, through financial assistance and help with concert bookings. The musicians MMRF works with are rooted in the Southern musical traditions of blues, gospel, string band, and Native American. They target their programs to serve the most vulnerable musicians, those 55 years and older with incomes under $18,000 a year. The sad reality is that many of these musicians are scraping by on annual incomes of $7,000 to $10,000.

They believe that when a musician is living under the stress of dire poverty, they cannot possibly concentrate on their music. Its Musician Sustenance program provides grants to help with monthly bills for medicine, food and housing or with emergency funding in times of crisis so that these music traditions don’t get lost in these circumstances.

They are an incredibly successful organization which has done a great deal to preserve the Blues and other music through these forms of assistance, archiving music and coordinating performances, which have reached over a million people with live performances in over 40 states and 17 countries around the world. They worked with extremely talented, extremely authentic musicians who most people in the world would have never been able to hear without their efforts.

How did the Clifton Center become involved with this organization?
Music Maker Relief received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to bring its Blues Revue concert and Our Living Past touring photography exhibit to a select number of venues in the South. MMRF reached out to Clifton Center to be a partner based on our own concert programming which focuses on presenting a diversity of musical genres including world music, Blues, folk, jazz, and Americana among others, and our work in education outreach, bringing our visiting musicians to area schools. Through the funding they receive and partnering with the Clifton Center, we are bringing both the photographs and the Blues Revue concert to the public at no charge.

Where can folks find out more about it?
More information on the events is available here or individuals and schools may call me at 502-644-2784. Here are some links to the TIME Magazine and PBS Newshour articles on the Our Living Past exhibit which contain a number of the images.

Laura is the WFPK Assistant Program Director and afternoon host.