- July 09, 2015] - The Delta Blues Museum
Band is featured in a documentary film making its
debut on Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) television
on July 14th at 10 p.m. Leadership support
From the Crossroads to the White House documentary
follows a group of young musicians on their journey
from the Mississippi Delta to the White House to receive
a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award
presented by First Lady Michelle Obama. Five members
of the Delta Blues Museum Band performed for Mrs.
Obama and guests.
Last year, the Delta
Blues Museum--Mississippi's first music museum dedicated
to the Blues--was recognized with the award for having
one of the best youth programs in the nation.
The Museum's Arts and Education program helps preserve
the blues tradition by teaching young Mississippians
to play and sing the blues. The program, which was
originally created by the late Mr. Johnnie Billington,
continues to educate blues musicians who help keep
Clarksdale's dynamic live music scene alive. Delta
Blues Museum director Shelley Ritter offers, "We are
thrilled that MPB is premiering this film. MPB provided
excellent radio coverage of the students' trip to
Washington, so it seems fitting that From the
Crossroads to the White House should first air
on MPB. We are truly honored to have received this
recognition for our program and grateful to the True
Delta Project for helping us tell our story."
From the Crossroads
to the White House is one of a series of award-winning
documentaries about the legacy of the Delta blues
from producers Lee Quinby and Erickson Blakney of
the True Delta Project. Ms. Quinby is passionate
about the Crossroads story, stating, "This film shows
how commitment to music education can transform lives
of young people. It's not magic, but it feels like
it when you witness their growth." The acclaimed Delta
Blues Museum Band will perform at the
Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival
in Clarksdale, which takes place August 8-10, 2015.
About the Filmmakers
Erickson S. Blakney
is a program officer with the New York-based Pinkerton
Foundation. Prior to joining Pinkerton, Blakney spent
nearly two decades in the media business as an award-winning
writer and reporter for Bloomberg and CBS News. With
a deep commitment to philanthropy and social service,
Blakney and several friends organized a private "giving
circle" to identify, assess and make grants to various
educational, social service and human rights organizations
nationwide. The private group has distributed over
$3-million through the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation
since 2005. He is a trustee of the DreamYard Project,
along with actor Ethan Hawke. DreamYard is a Bronx-based
arts and education program. Blakney serves on the
board of the Lower Mississippi River Foundation, a
Clarksdale-based organization devoted to protecting
the Mississippi Delta and providing outdoor experiential
Find Productions, and co-founder with Erickson
Blakney of the True Delta Project, is a filmmaker
and American Studies scholar and author. She received
her Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1984, taught at
Hobart and William Smith Colleges for 23 years, held
the Gannett Chair on the Millennium at the Rochester
Institute of Technology, the inaugural Zicklin Chair
at Brooklyn Colleges and for six years was Distinguished
Lecturer at Macaulay Honors College, CUNY until her
retirement from teaching in 2014. Her first documentary,
"Facing the Waves," centers on a former gang member
turned surfer/entrepreneur and was an official selection
at Mountainfilm Festival 2010 in Telluride, CO. Her
second documentary, True Delta, co-produced with Erickson
Blakney and co-directed with Daniel Cowen, screened
at seven film festivals and won three awards in the
short doc category. In addition to directing "Howl-N-Madd,"
she has directed 2 short tribute pieces: "Ladies'
Man" about T-Model Ford and "Respect the Kid" on Mr.
Johnnie Billington, all released in 2014.
Mississippi Public Broadcasting
(MPB) provides educational and public affairs programming
to Mississippians through its statewide television
and radio network. MPB enhances the work of educators,
students, parents and learners of all ages by providing
informative programming and educational resources.
MPB's locally-produced programming focuses on the
people, resources and attractions that reflect Mississippi's
unique culture and diverse heritage. Children's television
programs constitute a major portion of the daytime
and weekend morning schedules. MPB provides a valuable
resource to Mississippians in disseminating information
as part of the state's emergency preparedness and
response system. Since 1970, MPB has won over 400
national, regional and statewide awards, including
Emmy®, Edward R. Murrow and Parents' Choice® Awards.
For more information on MPB, its programs, mission
or educational resources, please visit www.mpbonline.org.