Children in the Florida Arts & Community Enrichment (F.A.C.E.) program received a unique black history lesson in music earlier this month at the Ebony Gardens Housing Complex.
In conjunction with the Apalachee Blues Society (ABS) and Chicago blues musician Fruteland Jackson, the F.A.C.E. program is one of several programs and schools that have participated in “Blues In The Schools”.
Ken Winker, vice president of the ABS, said that “Blues In The Schools”, a musical program that teaches children the history behind the 150 year-old musical genre blues, tells the story of life.
“Blues is what life is all about,” said Winker,” It has to do with all kind of life situations.”
Jackson, an acoustic blues musician and blues historian who has performed at several venues in America, Spain, France, Great Britain and Italy, said that blues is a universal music.
In more educational arenas, Jackson teaches about the history of the blues.
He describes the blues as “real music.”
“It’s not make believe music, it’s the way things are,” he added.” The blues originated from field hollers from slave plantation work, work songs and religious songs.”
Winker also said the program teaches children the origins of other musical genres.
“Young people learn the relationship with blues, jazz, hip-hop and gospel musical styles.”
Jackson agrees. “All of our musical styles stand on the shoulder of blues.”
However, Jackson teaches against the stereotype of blues being categorized as “angry music.”
Along with sharing the historical context of the blues, students get the opportunity to learn about the various sounds of Blues music. Jackson sings examples of works songs and early religious songs.
F.A.C.E. program participant Breona Johnson, 6, a student at Kate Sullivan Elementary School, said she learned the difference in sound between the regular and acoustic guitars that Jackson used.
“I learned that the light brown drum is not very loud and the dark brown one (the acoustic) is loud,” said Johnson.
Jill Harper, founder of the F.A.C.E. program, said the program provides exposure to the blues to children that may not know that it exists.
“This program exposes kids that may have not had an opportunity to know blues music,” Winker said.
Harper concurs.”[Blues music] seems to be lost in this generation.”
This is why Jackson decided to be a part of “Blues In The Schools” program.
“I fell in love with the notion of sharing and giving back,” Jackson said.
Gabrielle Finley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org