During my first three months as President/CEO of The Blues Foundation, I have met and received messages from industry professionals – musicians, label execs, journalists, and members. Most wishing me well, some imparting wisdom, others offering their vision for the future. In between the well wishes, have also been a few expressions of concern, some disappointment, and those seeking understanding.
It is no surprise that The Blues Foundation is undergoing what nearly every organization and institution around the country is experiencing. People want to be heard, recognized, and appreciated. Those feeling marginalized look to be a forethought and no longer an afterthought. When it comes to the blues, musicians are all looking for every opportunity to share their art through equal access to audiences where their music can be enjoyed. Emerging artists hoping for exposure.
Blues fans just want to enjoy the music. I understand.
My role is to listen to everyone and find ways of making The Blues Foundation experience for you – whether musician or fan – a gratifying one. I am looking forward to May - a time when musicians and fans from all walks of life will be together. I have heard so much about the eclectic group of people from all walks of life and all points of the world who will land in Memphis on a mission to have a good time. I am anxious to meet you. I want to witness and learn more about how you like to experience the blues and what The Blues Foundation means to you.
When the parties are over and musicians and fans return home, the critical work begins. Producing the events is absolutely a tremendous amount of work for the staff and all that contribute to the efforts. Serving those that look to The Blues Foundation for advocacy and leadership, however, is the profound work we perform. We are the nerve center for preserving the history, celebrating the present, and keeping the blues genre relevant. This comes with great responsibility and accountability to you who have entrusted us with this platform.
So after our weeklong celebration, I will return to my office and sort through everything I have learned. Then, along with The Blues Foundation staff and the support of the Board of Directors, take what you shared and create a pathway to the future I hope you desire.
As we move forward, it is so important that everyone feels included. My vision is that as we move forward you will experience your ideas and suggestions in action. In our roles at The Blues Foundation, we want to blend your ideas, viewpoints, and values to offer you a fellowship that simply honors, enjoys, and plays the blues.
This is our mission within the mission. So, when you see me around, please introduce yourself. I want to meet as many of you as I can at the Blues Hall of Fame inductions, Blues Music Awards, International Blues Challenge, and the Keeping the Blues Alive Awards reception. I will leave pen and notebook at the office because I want to listen. I look forward to you sharing and I will take good mental notes.
Of course, it goes without saying, the listening part will happen between experiencing a lot of excellent music, great events, and an amazingly wonderful time.
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