About 200 students at Jean Childs Young Middle School received an unexpected but interesting history lesson on Wednesday, through the use of music.
The Atlanta Blues Society’s “Blues in the Schools” program paid a visit to the southwest Atlanta school, and provided students with some historical perspective on how blues music influences many of today’s popular artists in R&B and hip hop.
“If you ask an artist today who he or she was influenced by, and then ask that artist who influenced them, and follow that trail back 100 years, eventually you will end up in the Mississippi Delta where the blues was born,” said Rich L’Hommedieu, a musician and Atlanta Blues Society member.
For example, many students said their favorite artist today is rapper Kodak Black. He says he was influenced by, among many others, Notorious B.I.G., who lists Public Enemy as an influence on him. Public Enemy has said jazz trumpeter Miles Davis influenced them, while Davis said he was influenced by Louis Armstrong, who said Jelly Roll Morton – credited with creating the jazz blues genre – influenced him.
“We thought the kids deserve to be cultured in different aspects of music, especially one that is a piece of their heritage,” said Abraham Anthony, music coordinator at Young Middle. “[Blues in the Schools] contacted us at the beginning of the school year, and when we looked into what they offer, we thought this would be a great way to introduce our students to a historical genre of music that is different from what they normally listen to.”
And the students appeared to enjoy both the history lesson and the music, as they clapped and nodded their heads to a few songs performed live on stage by a band led by singer and harmonica player Carlos Capote.
When one student asked him if the band would record a ring tone for him to use, Capote said, “We would be glad to. And if you record a ringtone to one of our songs, I’ll call you every day!”
NOTE: The “Blues in the Schools” visit to Young Middle will be featured on an upcoming segment on WSB-TV.