Barbara Morrison will present the 1st Annual Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center Blues Festival to be performed on two stages at the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center (BMPAC), 4305 Degnan Boulevard, #101, Los Angeles, CA 90036 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 18, 19 and 20, 2012.
Performers to be featured during the three-day Blues Fest include: Barbara Morrison (Producer of the Festival); the Sons of Rhythm: Johnny “Lucky” Otis (Grandson of Rhythm & Blues Pioneer Johnny Otis), Richard Berry III (Grandson of Composer and Pianist, Richard “Louie, Louie” Berry) and Donato James (Son of the legendary Etta James); Billy Foster & The Original Medallions; the Bernie Pearl Blues Band; Ray Bailey; Big Terry DeRouen; Kirk “Eli” Fletcher; Shelley “King” Fisher; Sonny Green; Sweetie Chicks; Johnny Mastro and Mama’s Boys; Jamie “Blues Boy” Powell; Sista Sherry Pruitt and Brother Yusef.
Morrison said: “It was a great day for the Blues when at The White House President Barack Obama told the nation that the Blues were alright with him. The Chief Executive celebrated the deep connection of U.S. culture with the music that originated in Africa, took root in slavery, and changed music for the entire world. The link between the Blues and President Obama’s home city of Chicago is well-known.”
But, the City of Los Angeles figures mightily in the story of the Blues as well. After WWII musicians like T-Bone Walker, Lowell Fulson and CharLes Brown found Central Avenue pulsating with music. Johnny Otis, the son of Greek immigrants, came from Berkeley to establish a solid platform for African-American artists in the still-segregated city. Little Esther Phillips, Etta James, Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, all fronted his show. Giants like Big Joe Turner, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Louis Jordan, and Roy Brown, lived here and often played with Johnny Otis.
The Blues has had high and low times, but never has disappeared. Gone underground, flown beneath the radar, but never died. Johnny Otis’ last great discovery was a young lady from Michigan who, like many of the great vocalists before her, was brought up singing in church. Her name was Barbara Morrison.
Aside from her considerable performance abilities, Barbara Morrison is now taking on a leadership role in the fostering of classic forms of African-American music in Los Angeles at her new Arts Center located in the Leimert Park.
Morrison said: “The Blues lie at the heart of Jazz, and were instrumental in the development of American popular music. As such, I am proud to start a new tradition here in Los Angeles by presenting a three-day Blues Festival featuring important artists in the field. One thing is for sure – come mid-May, Leimert Park will be jumpin’ as we raise the roof with our enthusiastic music making.”
Performances will be given at the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center on the Theatre Stage and the Festival Garden Stage during the three-day festival from May 18 – 20, 2012. Tickets are $25 per day, with the exception of the “All Star Blues Jam Session Fundraisers” benefiting the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center to be held immediately following the concerts on Saturday, May 19th and Sunday, May 20th, at which time tickets will be $30 per person, plus a two-drink minimum. Tickets may be purchased in advance by calling the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center at 323-296-BARB (323-296-2272) and online at www.barbaramorrisonpac.com.