Blues in the Schools celebrated its’ 10th anniversary Saturday, Oct. 1, with a performance in the Stephen’s Lake Park Amphitheatre.
The program aims to raise funds to grow awareness of the arts in mid-Missouri. The program’s resident visual artist, Terry Sutton, helped Grant Elementary students from kindergarten to the fifth grade create a mural called “The Blues Tree” at Central Bank of Boone County. It depicts what the last 10 years of the program. The artwork displays early Missouri artists of classical, jazz, and ragtime music like Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, “Lady Day” Billie Holiday, and T.J. Wheeler, who runs the program.
“I’ve never worked with kids before. I’m normally doing something [art] by myself,” Sutton said. “It was a challenge, but it was a welcoming challenge. It took a direction that it wouldn’t have gone if I did it on my own. That was the most rewarding part of it.”
Four schools performed at the Blues in the Schools performance. The show gave more than 100 students the chance to show what they’ve learned through the program. 2000 students are involved the the Blues in the Schools program this year.
“We’ve done a couple schools in Centralia and outside of Columbia, but we stick to the central Missouri area,” assistant foundation director Hilton Peeples said. “We want to spread it state wide. We would love to get all the kids in the state of Missouri involved. We just want to plant the seed for these kids and have them involved in music so we can show them what it can do in their lives.”
For two grandparents who arrived an hour early for the program, the program encourages them that their granddaughter might pursue her musical talents. Darrel and Hilda Fry are retired and moved to Columbia a year ago. Their granddaughter sang with the Lange Middle School choir Saturday.
“It’s a good program for her to be involved in,” Hilda said. “She has a pretty voice. It’s good for our kids to be active and learn different kinds of music.”
Hilda hopes her granddaughter will continue learning the piano. After the performance Saturday, she spoke about her granddaughter’s performance.
“Like all grandparents, you’re just overcome with emotion,” she said. “She special to us. She’s a joy.”