Plans are in the works for Blues Hall of Fame

Plans are in the works for Blues Hall of Fame
September 21, 2011
By Wayne Risher
The Commercial Appeal

The Blues Foundation will roll out plans Thursday for a Blues Music Hall of Fame and a fund-raising campaign to pay for it.

An open house is scheduled 5:30-7:30 p.m. at 421 S. Main, former Hotline Records building, which became the foundation's permanent home this summer.

Design team members Barry Yoakum of archimania and Scott Blake of Design 500 will preview their plans for the hall at 6 p.m.

The foundation has been honoring artists since 1980 but never had facilities to showcase them.

"We've put out press releases and recognized them with dinner presentations, but there's never been a physical place," said executive director Jay Sieleman. "It's a basic building block that should have been here a long time ago."

The hall honors legends like B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson and John Lee Hooker, as well as industry figures, singles, albums and books about the blues.

Longtime executive committee member Kevin Kane, Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau president, said the idea isn't to create a tourist attraction, though it can't help but become a destination for blues aficionados.

"We felt like this was an opportunity to expand our mission, through technology and visuals, to actually have a living, breathing entity as it relates to the Blues Music Hall of Fame," Kane said.

"We're not trying to get into the quote, unquote tourist attraction business, but we know it will be an amenity," he added.

The foundation bought the building last December and moved in July from rented space elsewhere Downtown.

Kane and Sieleman said the open house will help launch fund-raising for the Hall of Fame. Foundation members, community leaders and entertainment industry executives have been invited.

In preparation for the capital campaign, the foundation has enlisted endorsements from celebrities and politicians.

A still-growing Blues Ambassadors Honorary Committee includes Dan Aykroyd, Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker, Marcia Ball, Jim Belushi, record producer Steve Berkowitz, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis), Dion, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, author Peter Guralnick, John Hammond, B.B. King, Betty LaVette, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Steve Miller, Aerosmith's Joe Perry, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, Bobby Rush, Hubert Sumlin, George Thorogood, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and actor James Woods.

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