Friday, January 31, 2014

Tina Turner contributes to Flagg Grove School project

With restoration underway, the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, Tenn., is excited to announce Tina Turner’s contributions to the Flagg Grove School project.
Turner has been involved with the project since her childhood school was moved in 2012, including a sizable donation towards the restoration by the Queen of Rock herself. This donation is in addition to the recent campaign to match a $75,000 donation by local attorney Pat Mann Jr. and his wife, Ann.
In a recent statement by Turner, she expressed thanks to the community for their participation and involvement in the restoration.
“I would like to personally thank Brownsville Mayor Jo Matherne and Sonia Outlaw-Clark and her team at the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center for their endless support,” says Turner “and of course Joe and Pam Stephens, without their donation of the school, this would not have been possible. I also want to recognize all the donations, both public and private, from fans, friends, and associates on this project which is very close to my heart.”

Turner is fully supportive of the project and happy to be able to give back to her community. In addition to a generous monetary donation towards the restoration of the school, she will be providing all the memorabilia, display cases, gold record awards and stage costumes from her long career. Concert videos will also be showing in the school. All of which will become part of the school’s interpretive exhibit.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Music jam celebrates Blues pioneer

This artist rendering of Brownsville's three Bluesmen is featured on a wall mural inside the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, Tenn. "Sleepy" John Estes is depicted on the right.
To many the Blues mean live music on Beale Street or the clubs of Clarksdale, Miss. Not much attention is given to the old bluesmen who pioneered the way for legends such as BB King and Bobby Blue Bland. That will change this Saturday, January 25, when the Delta Heritage Center, in Brownsville, Tenn., will host an Acoustic Blues Jam to celebrate the 115th birthday of Bluesman "Sleepy" John Estes. Musicians and fans are invited to drop by from noon until 5 p.m., for birthday cake, door prizes and an acoustic  jam session.

"We're so excited about this," says Center director Sonia Outlaw-Clark. "What better way to celebrate the birthday of an industry pioneer than with a acoustic Blues jam."
Helping with the event is the newly-formed West Tennessee Blues Society. The society is hoping to spread the word about its grass roots effort to preserve the unique country blues sound of the region and promote those who are performing and carrying on the legacy left by these pioneers.
Estes was born in 1899 and began playing guitar and singing at house parties and picnics around Brownsville. At the age of 19, he was playing professionally and recorded in Memphis for Victor Records. He was often accompanied by two other Brownsville bluesmen, Hammie Nixon (harmonica) and Yank Rachell (mandolin). The three would perform together off and on for more than 50 years.
Estes had a distinctive "crying" vocal style that differentiated him from other bluesmen of the era. Many of his original songs are based on his life experiences and people he knew. The nickname "Sleepy" comes from his tendency to fall asleep at any given time. He died in 1977 while preparing for a European tour.
Jam attendees will also be able to visit his last home, located on the grounds, and experience a bit of what life was like for Estes. For more information about the Blues Jam, call the Center at 731-779-9000 or email