Inspired by Sonny Boy Williamson II, Blues Harmonica Jam Camp decided to start a blues school for the kids of Tutwiler, Mississippi-- just two miles from Sonny Boy's grave. The Tutwiler Educational Center accepts donations from harp player's everywhere to keep the program growing. Now in its fourth year, the program teaches guitar, bass guitar and drums. Our talented teachers have developed powerful relationships with the kids.
Tutwiler's Main Street Noon
Tutwiler, Mississippi (about 10 miles south of Clarksdale) is the tiny town where harmonica hero, Sonny Boy Williamson II is buried. Once prosperous, Tutwiler has fallen on hard times. The resiliency of the residents, the generosity of caring people worldwide, and the help of a group of hard working doctors and educators has made all the difference.
Serving 30 to 40 kids each year, the program has run for three years and relies on fundraisers and money gifts of all sizes. Every dollar is used to pay our three great teachers. And yes, there is a very easy way, you can get involved. Currently, the kids have band practice two hours a week, building their chops and confidence. Our teachers are local pros: Lee Williams teaching drums, Dave Dunavent teaching guitar, Heather Crosse teaching bass. Part of the program is paying our teachers so we retain the best.
Built 20 years ago from grants inspired by a "60 Minutes" special, the center is part of the Tutwiler Medical Clinic, headed by Sister Anne Brooks, a surgeon who brought her vision of serving the poor to a place where she is needed most.
This year our young musicians took a big step forward by performing at the Juke Joint music festival in Clarksdale, 15 miles away. They even got their picture in the local Delta Business Journal magazine. Then they performed at the first annual Tutwiler Day.
Coming into July, August in the Mississippi heat, the classes in the air conditioned center are more important than ever.
How much does it cost to run? We pay our teachers $30 an hour. With three teachers working in two hour blocks twice a week, we have formed a younger kids band, and an older kids band, and service about 40 children. At this point, our only cost is the $180 a day, or $360 a week. In other words, $360 a week buys four hours of class for 20 to 30 kids each week,
Your contributions go directly to the Tutwiler Educational Center, which is a legal non profit charity. We already have instruments and the facility, so every dime goes to the classroom time and you simply tell them it is for the music program. The last time I sent this out, we raised a few hundred dollars. Thank you so much!