News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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September 10, 2013

Words & Music: Essay contest links children to downtown blues fest

TERRE HAUTE — “Music is my inspiration. Music feels like it’s my freeway to a different world.”

So starts an essay by Devan, a child who attends the Boys & Girls Club after-school program in Terre Haute.

The essay is one of about 40 entries submitted by children for the “What Music Means to Me” contest sponsored by next weekend’s Blues at the Crossroads.

Now, contest organizers Connie Wrin and Jimmy Smith hope that people will donate enough instruments so that each child who entered the contest can get an instrument, take music lessons and develop their musical talent.

“Any kind of instruments — sax, trumpet, clarinets, guitars,” Wrin said. “The Music Shoppe has donated six electric guitars already.”

Even instruments that need some repair will be accepted, she said. And, those who bring a qualifying instrument to donate to the Blues at the Crossroads will receive free admission to the event. (Warning: Kazoos, musical spoons and the like will not be considered qualifying instruments.)

Smith, Boys & Girls Club director, said the partnership with Blues at the Crossroads diversifies the programming that the club offers to youngsters in Terre Haute.

“I think it’s big for us because everyone looks at us for athletics, but we also do after-school tutoring and other opportunities,” Smith said, noting that music is important to many youths at the club. “If these kids get good at something, Lord knows how far it can take them.”

“Maybe one of these kids will play in the blues festival one of these days,” said Wrin, a main organizer of Blues at the Crossroads.

Thirty-six children already participating in the after-school program submitted essays for the contest.

“Some of the essays are really touching,” Wrin said. For some of the children, music is their hope for a brighter future.

Devan’s lyrical essay continues: “A better world. A world where I am in complete control over what happens. It’s my world. It’s my nation. It’s my imagination. It’s my inspiration. That is what music is to me.”

Beyond the essay contest, Blues at the Crossroads donates 50 memberships for children to attend the club.

“A lot more kids need scholarships here,” Smith said. “It’s really helped as far as program fees to get kids through the door.”

Since the Boys & Girls Club moved from its Third Street location to the site of the former Chauncey Rose Middle School/Gerstmeyer High School site, the club has attracted more children from around the city.

“When we moved to this location, we realized that this is a more accessible location to get kids here,” Smith said.

Student musicians from the Indiana State University’s Community School of the Arts will be providing the lessons at the club.

But the program requires commitment from the youths who receive instruments. If they fail to attend their weekly lessons, the instrument will be issued to another club member.

“Kids who don’t participate and practice will have to give the instrument back so another kid who wants it can use it,” said Smith, himself a veteran of childhood piano lessons.

“I can read music, and I had to practice. It takes discipline, just like athletics,” he said.

Anyone wanting to give a musical instrument for the program can donate the instrument to The Verve, Conservatory of Music, The Music Shoppe, The Boys & Girls Club or Maryland Community Church.

Another fundraiser planned at the blues festival is a framed photographic mosaic featuring images of the Blues at the Crossroads Festival from 2004 to 2012. The creation of artist Bruce Drummond, a former Terre Haute resident, the mosaic will be raffled off from 2,000 tickets costing $5 each or five for $20. The mosaic is about 41⁄2 feet tall and 6 feet long. Another 24 smaller framed versions of the mosaic will be sold for $200 each, with half of the proceeds going to the Boys & Girls Club.

The annual blues festival will be conducted Friday and Saturday at the intersection of Seventh Street and Wabash Avenue in Terre Haute.

For more details about the festival, go online to www.BluesAtTheCross roads.com.

For more information about the Boys and Girls Club, go online to www.thbgc.org or call 812-232-2046.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter@TribStarLisa.

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