November 10, 2014
DELTA BLUES MUSEUM WINS
2014 NATIONAL ARTS & HUMANITIES
YOUTH PROGRAM AWARD
DBM Student Band Performed at White
House Awards Ceremony
Hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama
(CLARKSDALE, MS) - Five members
of the Delta Blues Museum Band from Clarksdale, Mississippi,
were at the White House today to receive an award from First
Lady Michelle Obama on behalf of The Delta Blues Museum's
Arts and Education Program, which was recognized
for its effectiveness in developing learning and life skills
in young people by engaging them in the creative youth programs.
The Delta Blues Museum's after-school program received
the 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award,
the nation's highest honor for these programs.
The award recognizes the country's best creative youth
development programs for using engagement in the arts and
the humanities to increase academic achievement, graduation
rates, and college enrollment. The awardees-chosen from
a pool of more than 350 nominations and 50 finalists-are
also recognized for improving literacy and language abilities,
communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness.
Additionally, the Delta Blues Museum Band was invited
to perform today at the White House event. The
students played "Sweet Home Chicago" in tribute to the First
Lady's hometown and its musical connection to Mississippi
Delta Blues. This is the second time the Delta Blues Museum
Band has performed at the White House: Mr. Johnnie Billington
took the students during the Clinton administration, and
the Museum's current program is an extension of the late
Mr. Billington's "Blues Academy," which was originally run
from his auto shop.
First presented in 1998, the National Arts and Humanities
Youth Program Award is the signature program of the President's
Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). The awards
are presented annually in partnership with the National
Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for
the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library
"Having the chance to represent The Delta Blues Museum
in accepting this award from the First Lady of the United
States and perform in the White House was an experience
that I'll never forget," said student Christone Ingram.
"It showed me that programs like ours [Delta Blues Museum's
Arts and Education Program] are important to our country."
The award was celebrated by a number of its long-time partners
and supporters, including The Mississippi Arts Commission
and the Mississippi Humanities Council.
"By engaging and inspiring young people, the Delta Blues
Museum is giving them not just the vision but the skills
to build a new and better life for themselves and their
families, and for our community," said Dr. Valmadge Towner,
president of Coahoma Community College. "These young people
are learning how to use creative thinking to work as a team,
to solve problems and to express themselves constructively.
These are exactly the kinds of skills we want them to have
to be able to succeed in school, in work and in life."
In addition to the national recognition bestowed by receipt
of the prestigious award, the Delta Blues Museum will also
receive $10,000 to support its programming and engage more
young people from the community.
"We hope this award will draw attention to the documented fact that programs like
ours are essential investments not just in the lives of
our young people, but in our community, as well," said Walt
Busby, lead instructor for the Museum's Arts and Education
program. "We're incredibly proud of this achievement and
of the young people, volunteers, supporters, board and staff
who made it possible."
The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program
Award is the nation's highest honor for after-school arts
and humanities programs. The award recognizes and
supports outstanding programs that lay new pathways to creativity,
expression, and achievement outside of the regular school
day. These programs excite and engage a range of students,
cultivating imagination, collaboration, discipline and academic
success, with demonstrable results.
"You can't help but
be moved by these kids, who show us the transformative power
of the arts and humanities," said Rachel Goslins, executive
director of the President's Committee on the Arts and the
Humanities. "They are staying in school longer, getting
better grades, graduating from high school and going on
to college at significantly higher rates than their peers.
And they're building skills that will last them a lifetime."
For more information about the Delta
Blues Museum and its programs, please visit www.deltabluesmuseum.org.
For more information about the National Arts and Humanities
Youth Program Awards, visit www.pcah.gov.
Members of the press may download event images from today's
ceremony here -
This newsletter is supported in part
by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state
in part, from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal