Students get to hear the blues

“Blues in the Schools” is a new program Homer Council on the Arts is offering our youth during the school day in February during Black History Month. Michael “Hawkeye” Herman will be visiting 11 schools in the Homer area, including schools in Port Graham, Nanwalek and Seldovia. Hawkeye is a blues singer songwriter and historian who learned to play at the feet of blues legends like Bukka White, Furry Lewis, Lightnin’ Hopkins and many more. For the past 33 years, he has been visiting schools offering assemblies, and classes  connecting the impact of blues music on history and culture. He uniquely combines an educator’s sensibility and skills with an artist’s passion and soul.

Hawkeye says: “Students need to be informed that the world did not start when they were born. Everything has history and roots in the past.” The blues has influenced today’s popular music — rock, country, bluegrass, folk, rap/hip-hop, jazz, and even contemporary classical. And in a month when we celebrate and teach black history, it’s an opportunity to acknowledge the tremendous contribution of African-American culture to our common heritage.

It’s also a captivating way to use performing art to illustrate and bring history alive.

This program will reach 1,400 students during Hawkeye’s 2 ½ weeks tour through the schools. He will also be giving public performances in Homer, Nanwalek, Port Graham and  Seldovia.

 All of this is made possible with a generous donation from Jack and Deborah Oudiz, and funding from The Charlotte Martin Foundation, ConocoPhillips, and the Homer Foundation. We are very excited to be granted funds from the Music Education Fund in Memory of Rhenda Horn.

Travel expenses were paid with funding from the Rasmuson Foundation through the Harper Touring Fund, administered by the Alaska State Council on the Arts. And of course, Ocean Shores Motel always offers the finest lodging.

The Homer Council on the Arts is very proud of our commitment to affording our youth the opportunity to experience and participate in the arts. It is our fervent hope that this first offering of “Blues in the Schools” will lead to an annual tradition for Homer area schools.

Gail Edgerly

Executive Director

Homer Council on the Arts