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Monday, January 23, 2017

Blues Foundation kicks off 33rd Int'l. Blues Challenge with free concert in Clayborn Temple 1/31

The IBC’S International Showcase will feature 
top blues acts from around the world 
performing at Memphis’ historic Clayborn Temple
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The blues will be coming home to Memphis on January 31st when The Blues Foundation hosts its 33rd annual International Blues Challenge. At this blues summit, musicians from around the globe will battle it out for cash, prizes, and bookings in the Challenge’s half-dozen categories.  
Before the much-anticipated competition begins, however, musicians, blues professionals and fans will first come together for the traditional kick-off concert, the International Showcase. Taking place at the historic Clayborn Temple on January 31, 2017, beginning at 5 p.m., this opening night event features performers — representing Europe, Asia, Australia, North and South America — celebrating the blues. You don’t even have to be an IBC pass holder to attend because this show is free and open to the public.  
The International Showcase serves as a terrific introduction to the five-day-long IBC as it presents a vibrant picture of the many exciting things happening in blues music today. The concert also gives this diverse lineup of musicians, hailing from 13 different countries, an opportunity to play together in one location. Additionally, it provides local Memphians the chance to be part of this celebration of the music for which the city is known throughout the world.  
This type of community building reflects what the Blues Foundation is all about. For more than 35 years, the local Memphis organization has not only worked to increase awareness of blues’ past, present and future throughout the world but it also has been an advocate for the vital and varied societal roles that this music plays. The Foundation runs two highly regarded education programs, Blues in the Schools and the Generation Blues Scholarship, along with operating the HART Fund, which provides medical assistance for musicians in need. The IBC festival, furthermore, features several youth showcases and benefit concerts, while its February 3rd keynote panel explores the role of “Blues as Healer.”  
This emphasis on community also makes the International Showcase’s venue, the historic Clayborn Temple, a wonderfully appropriate location. A Memphis landmark for more than 120 years, the Clayborn, which is currently undergoing renovations, played a particularly important role during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. As a frequent community meeting place, it acted as a distribution site for the now famous “I Am a Man” signs and also was the staging ground for many marches, including the last one Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would ever lead, the March 28, 1968 rally supporting the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike. Dr. King’s final speech, the legendary “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” address, was originally scheduled for the Clayborn too, but at the last minute was moved to the nearby Mason Temple. The spirit of Dr. King’s message on breaking down the boundaries of color, nationality and gender is proudly carried on by the Blues Foundation.    
Memphians and IBC attendees from across the globe attending the International Showcase concert will have the exclusive pleasure of being able to witness the progress that has been made with the extensive restoration of the Clayborn, which has been vacant for the past few decades. The current owners, in fact, just received a $400,000 grant from the National Parks Service on January 12 that will further help reestablish its original grandeur and bring this historical significant building back to life.  
Honoring and preserving the past also is a main function of the Blues Foundation’s mission. In 2015, it opened the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis to much popular and critical acclaim. Each year at the IBC, the Foundation also bestows its Keeping the Blues Alive Awards to salute those who have worked to keep the blues flame glowing strong. This year’s 16 honorees, who will be recognized at an IBC luncheon on February 3rd, include record labels, music festivals, recording studios, clubs, radio stations, publications and individuals located all around the world.
The International Showcase opening night concert, (the show’s performance schedule will be released that day) beginning at 5 p.m. on January 31 is just the start of the IBC’s five exciting days. In fact, music from additional international acts will be starting up in clubs on Beale Street that night beginning at 8 p.m. International Showcase attendees will be able to purchase passes ($100 per person) for the rest of the International Blues Challenge events. Passes can also be purchased at, where there is more information about the Blues Foundation and the IBC, the schedule of IBC activities and performances, and how to join the Blues Foundation. Daily wristbands for the competition events (beginning at 4:30 p.m. each evening) can be purchased each day on Beale Street. Passes are required for daytime activities.
About the Blues Foundation: This world-renowned, Memphis-based organization holds a mission to preserve blues heritage, celebrate blues recording and performance, expand worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensure the future of this uniquely American art form. Founded in 1980, the Blues Foundation has approximately 4,000 individual members and 200 affiliated societies representing another 50,000 fans and professionals around the world. Its signature honors and events — the Blues Music Awards, Blues Hall of Fame, International Blues Challenge, and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards — make it the international hub of blues music. Its HART Fund provides the blues community with medical assistance for musicians in need, while Blues in the Schools programs and Generation Blues Scholarships expose new generations to blues music. The recent opening of the Blues Hall of Fame Museum, in Memphis, now adds the opportunity for music lovers of all ages to interact with the music and its history. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the global blues community with answers, information, and news.

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