About 200 students at Fredericton High School took part in an enrichment opportunity of a lifetime when they joined a music class with the award-winning Blues singer, guitarist and songwriter Morgan Davis on Sept. 9.
A native of Detroit now living in Halifax, Davis visited Fredericton High as part of Blues in Schools, an educational program created to promote, preserve and perpetuate the art, culture and heritage of blues music and to examine the music's influence on other genres.
Every year, during Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival week in the capital city, performers are sent into local schools to play for more than 3,000 students from elementary to high school. Besides performing, the musicians teach students about the culture and history of blues music. The performances are free for the students who get an authentic musical experience from some of the best musicians on the national and international stage.
"They loved hearing him and what he was saying," said Craig Woodcock, music teacher at Fredericton High School. "They were very impressed with the history he gave and his reputation for playing with the greats."
Davis sang and played his cigar box guitar, telling the students he wanted to "bridge the generation gap" and show them how to feel blues music. The blues usually tells a story, often reaching the audience in a personal way about their own life experiences.
"I really enjoy these presentations," Davis said. "It's an investment in blues fans and that keeps me in business."
Davis said blues music has a rich history, invented by "poor folks down south whose ancestors were black slaves." Through rhythm, creativity and resourcefulness, they learned to make their own amazing music that eventually touched, changed and captured people around the world.
"Today, we are inundated with music," Davis said. "It's everywhere we go. The songwriters and producers sit down and think about what sells. Blues music (on the other hand) exemplifies an art form made strictly to communicate with people."
For more than four decades, Davis has been on the road travelling across Canada, the United States and Europe. His performances draw from a rich tradition of country blues as well as his own contemporary songs.