COLUMBIA, 8/12/11 (Beat Byte) -- With his gentle lessons about the roots of Blues and mellow vocals about the art of self-awareness, singer and educator T J Wheeler (left) will return to Columbia for the fifth year to conduct a week-long "Blues residency" for students at Grant and West Blvd. elementary schools.
"The Missouri Arts Council (MAC) granted us the funds we requested, so TJ will be here prior to the Roots, Blues, and BBQ Festival," Columbia Public Schools music teacher Pam Sisson told the Columbia Heart Beat. "Last year, although the MAC application included West Blvd Elementary, they only awarded us money enough for Grant Elementary," Sisson explained. "But the Coffee Zone [downtown restaurant] came through to provide West with a week's residency, too."
Taking the Roots and Blues stage at Flat Branch Park to conclude the residency every year, Wheeler joins his young musical charges in songs -- and lessons with a recurring theme: "Blues is the music of hope," not the music of sadness. Facing challenges from all quarters, African-Americans invented the Blues to give them strength, Wheeler explains.
"With TJ here in CoMo, he will visit other elementary schools, probably do a residency in Jeff City, and bring wonderful opportunties to many kiddos," Sisson explained. Roots and Blues is scheduled for September 9 and 10.