Davis claims 41 years of Black Belt Blues

By: Mynecia Destinee Steele
 

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Mr. Clarence Davis

 

Mr. Clarence Davis has been around since the first Black Belt Folk Roots Festival, and he remembers it well.
Clarence attended the first Black Belt Folk Roots Festival 41 years ago and he has not missed one yet.
Davis says that he remembers when Jane Sapp, music and cultural instructor for the event, and other staff of the Miles College-Eutaw Program, started the festival. “I remember them going around trying to get people and musicians together,” said Davis.
Davis has not only attended the festival regularly, but he also participates in musical performances. Davis was inducted in the Blues Hall of Fame in 2014. The City of Eutaw is privileged to have had Davis’ music grace its courtyard square every August.
He plays what he calls Delta Blues. This style of music came from the Mississippi area during the ‘20s and ‘30s.Growing up, Davis fell in love with this style of music, and eventually taught himself to play blues on the bass.
“I first started playing around with a guitar at seven”, said Davis. “But, I really started getting into it when I was 12.”
Learning to play took lots of practice, but Davis was dedicated. He would listen to songs and mimic the sounds of other musicians until he sounded exactly like them.
According to Davis most musicians during that time tried to imitate that delta sound. The music expressed the hardships that many people, especially farmers, were experiencing during that time.
Davis went on to reminisce about some of the other original festival performers and musicians.  He clearly remembers that raw down-home sound. He particularly loved the way the performers played the hambone.
There was something special about those homemade instruments said Davis. These instruments were reflective of our roots. And that is what the Black Belt Folk Roots Festival is all about.
He misses the old time sounds of the festival, but he also appreciates the way that younger generations have taken on the tradition of playing at the festival, with their new school blues and hip-hop.
Mr. Davis says that one thing he would love to see, before his last festival, is for it to continue to grow. He suggested that the event be moved to the local park.  This space would provide a larger venue, and therefore more vendors could participate and more people could attend.
Davis emphasized how important this event is to the Black Belt community. “For a lot of the older people, this is probably the only time they really get to come out of the house,” said Davis. He said that this event is one time out of the year that the entire community is able to get together and have a great time.

BBCF awards $60,000 in grants to Arts Programs throughout 12 Black Belt counties

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L to R: Rev. Christopher Spencer, Vassie Welbeck-Browne, Johnnie M. Knott, Mary Beck, Darlene Robinson, Felicia Lucky.
 Woman-To-Woman , Inc. recieved a $10,000 grant to support the project, “Pathway to Nurturing, Strengthening and Changing.”   Greene County youth will use drama, dance and poetry to increase academic achievement, improve self-esteem, and develop communication skills.  Through this project, students will use several art disciplines to improve academics and creativity by working with community partners and professional artists.

Greene Co. Art Grantees-Greene Co. Alumnae

L to R:  Felicia Lucky, Rev. Christopher Spencer Andrea  Perry, Darlene Robinson and Braxton Carlilse. Greene County Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta:  $2,000 to support the DST Café project which will expose the community to a combination of arts by presenting creative expressions in  performing, visual and literary arts.

Greene Co.-Society of Arts & Culture

L to R: Rev. Christopher Spencer, Felicia Lucky, Debra Eatman and Darlene Robinson. Society of Folk Arts and Culture:  $3,000 to support the 41st Black Belt Folk Roots Festival which celebrates the culture, traditions and folkways of the West Alabama Region.

 

 

•Greene County
receives $15,000
in grant awards

The Black Belt Community Foundation, located in Selma, Al, awarded $60,000 in grants to fund programs throughout 12 counties located in the Black Belt Region to bolster efforts in the art programs.  The awards were presented in a ceremony at the Hank Sanders Technology Center, Wallace Community College, Selma, AL, on Saturday, June 18, 2016, to recipients who gathered for a day of celebration and fellowship.  Greene County received $5,000 in arts grant support for art related programs and a $10,000 Arts Education Grant.  The total of grant awards for Greene County was $15,000.  “The Black Belt Community Foundation has awarded nearly $3.2 million in grants to our 12 counties since 2005,” said Felecia Lucky, President of the BBCF.  It is gratifying to see the organizations and community leaders who work hard every day to transform our region through the arts gather together and attend the ceremony, which is a vibrant celebration of our mission.”
This past April, community led organizations located in Bullock, Choctaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, Sumter, and Wilcox counties were welcomed to apply for grants to support the arts.  The BBCF awarded $60,000 in grants  to arts initiative project.