The students at Webb Elementary School and Rehobeth Elementary School recently received a dose of the blues.
“Blues in Schools,” an annual event sponsored by Troy University and the Wiregrass Blues Society, brought renowned blues musician Tas Cru and his band into the two Houston County schools, where they played an assortment of blues tunes while explaining some of the history and concepts behind the genre.
“It’s really important, because we have a rich history of blues that comes from this area, but also this is just a very American music that we can all be proud of,” said Dr. Jeneve Brooks, an assistant professor of sociology at TROY. “It’s fun for the kids, because they don’t have much exposure to the origins of rock music and rap, but this is the origin of all of that. The music is very accessible, so the kids really respond to it.”
Cru, a former educator who has been playing blues music since he was in grade school, considers “Blues in Schools” the most important aspect of his music career.
“Of course I love being in front of an adult audience as well, but probably this is more important as an artist,” Cru said. “I might be making a difference to some kid somewhere. I love the interaction at a big festival like the Wiregrass Blues Fest, but my responsibility as an artist is more doing these things.”
Cru pointed to world-famous blues star Keb Mo as an example of the value of this program, as it was a shop teacher who exposed Mo to the blues at an early age and helped him avoid gang life in Compton, Calif.
“Blues in Schools is natural to me because I used to do this stuff in my classrooms when I was teaching,” Cru said. “It’s a win-win and I love doing it. The kids respond to it, and I love the kids to get a feel for this truly American music. Most of the improvisational musics that we know today, whether it be pop, jazz hip-hop, rock ‘n’ roll or country, all came out of the tradition of the blues.”
Rehobeth Elementary Principal Greg Yance joined the students for a dance at the end of Cru’s performance.
He said the program was a great way to reach kids and another example of TROY’s outreach into the Wiregrass.
“Research has always shown that children who are able to hear music, play music in the band and be around it, it helps them intellectually,” Yance said. “You can tell the kids got the beat, enjoyed the music, and they learned something. It’s great when you can get professional musicians and bring them into any school, but especially in county schools, and provide our children with an opportunity to see them.”