Music Maker Relief Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit, which supports traditional, southern musicians who are living in poverty, is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2014. Music Maker has assisted hundreds of artists with emergency aid and performance opportunities, and their label has released 166 albums since Tim and Denise Duffy founded it in 1994.
Taj Mahal, Music Maker advisory board member and strong advocate of the
organization, said, "Through the efforts of the Music Makers Relief
Foundation, these amazing people and artists have been able to live
dignified lives. In many cases they were rediscovered during their
golden years by Tim and Denise Duffy, then given the joy of new
recognition by their families, peers and fans world-over!"
Music Maker has planned a series of events to commemorate the anniversary:
+ April 4 – Kickoff event at The Crunkleton, Chapel Hill, NC featuring Ironing Board Sam.
+ April 14 – Performances by Ironing Board Sam and David Bryant at the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, MS.
+ July – August 2014 – We Are the Music Makers museum exhibit on view at New York Public Library
+ September 15, 2014 – Release of We Are the Music Makers: Preserving the Soul of America's Music book on Nautilus Press
+ September 30, 2014 – Release of 2CD set 'We Are The Music Makers.'
+ October 3 – Official Launch of We Are the Music Makers exhibit at the Arts Center in
+ October 3 – 4 – Music Maker Reunion Weekend in Carrboro and Hillsborough, NC.
Written by the Duffys, the book features over 65 photographs taken by
Tim Duffy over the past 20 years of artists he has worked with, along
with the stories and songs of these musicians. Tim Duffy's previous
book, Portraits and Songs from the Roots of America, was released in
2002 and sold 15,000 copies.
A 20th Anniversary compilation album will also be released on the Music
Maker label in September 2014. The 44-track collection includes Taj
Mahal, Guitar Gabriel, John Dee Holeman, Etta Baker, The Carolina
Chocolate Drops, Leyla McCalla, Ironing Board Sam, and many others, with
over two hours of music.
The traveling exhibit will include photographs from the book alongside
field recordings and music from Music Maker's archive and will lead
viewers on a journey of discovery through the often-overlooked artists
of the American South.
Watch a video about Music Maker's mission.
"Early on, while studying with tremendous blues musicians throughout the
South, I realized that our nation's musical traditions were suffering
from starvation and underemployment," says Tim Duffy. "We founded the
Music Maker Relief Foundation as a nonprofit in 1994 to preserve
America's music by directly supporting the people who make the music. We
get gigs for those that want to perform, guitars for those who want to
play, and feed the hungry. Our initial grassroots effort to meet the
needs of a handful of blues musicians in Winston-Salem, NC, has grown to
Their talents were hidden by poverty, but they did not ask the Duffy's
for money – they wanted work. The Duffys created a model of support
focused on helping the artists they encountered meet basic needs so they
could concentrate on their art – you can't play your guitar at a gig if
you've pawned it to pay for heat. While assisting with day-to-day
essentials, Music Maker staff work with an artist to develop booking
materials such as an album and photographs, and work to get them gigs
around the world. A priority for the Duffys was also to document these
artists' music for future generations, and their extensive field
recordings are archived at the Southern Folklife Collection at the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.