Two Mississippi Teens Receive Summer Scholarships

By 
Allen Bush
April 23, 2010
Berklee professor Lenny Stallworth, Paula Thompson, Delta Blues Museum Director Shelley Ritter, and Christopher Coleman, director of the Delta Blues Museum's gift shop. Stallworth and Coleman helped select the scholarship recipient.
From left: Calvin Bogan and Steven Johnson.
Photo Allen Bush
Photo Allen Bush

Paula Thompson from Clarksdale and Calvin Bogan from Jackson will spend five weeks this summer in Boston, studying at Berklee College of Music on full scholarships valued at $7,500 each. They'll join teens from all over the world for Berklee's Five-Week Summer Performance Program.

The scholarships were awarded from the Berklee Mississippi Music Exchange. The program develops opportunities to exchange education, music, and culture between Berklee and the Mississippi Delta. This is the third year that Berklee has awarded summer scholarships to students who take part in programs at the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale and the Robert Johnson Blues Museum in Crystal Springs, Mississippi.

Thompson is a student in the Delta Blues Museum's Arts & Education Program. She has been singing since the age of 3 and made her stage debut at 6 in a family group called Blues Prodigy. In addition to singing, she also plays the drums and bass guitar. For her audition, she sang "Hurts So Bad," by Susan Tedeschi. Thompson told the scholarship committee, composed of Berklee and Delta Blues Museum personnel, that when she grows up she'd like to be a singer. On the same day that she auditioned for the scholarship, she also celebrated her 15th birthday.  

Steven Johnson, grandson of the legendary Robert Johnson and vice president of the Robert Johnson Blues Foundation, scouted Bogan for the scholarship. The 19-year-old has been playing the saxophone for six years, and is currently studying music at Hinds Community College in Utica. Among his musical experiences are playing in church and in jazz and contemporary music groups. He would like to be music teacher. Bogan and Johnson met the Berklee committee in the historic Baptist Town region of Greenwood at Sylvester Hoover's Country Kitchen, and he serenaded them in front of the noted eatery, drawing community members who snapped photos and wished him good luck.