Building a Bridge to Mississippi

By
Allen Bush
May 5, 2008
From left: Allen Bush, Berklee's director of media relations; Clarksdale guitarist and scholarship winner Travis Calvin; and Shelley Ritter, director of the Delta Blues Museum.
From left: Michael Johnson, treasurer of the Robert Johnson Blues Foundation; grand prize winner Kendra Savage; and Steven Johnson, vice president of the Robert Johnson Blues Foundation.

Two talented musicians from Mississippi are on their way to Berklee after winning recent scholarship competitions. It's the first time that Berklee has partnered with institutions in Mississippi to actively identify and award music education opportunities to young musicians who represent the region so critical to the U.S.A.'s rich blues heritage.

Travis Calvin, an 18-year-old resident of Clarksdale, Mississippi, earned a full scholarship to Berklee's Five-Week Summer Performance Program after an April audition. Accompanied by a drummer, Calvin performed skillful and inspired guitar solos in his bluesy arrangement of "Amazing Grace." Calvin, who is a member of the Delta Blues Museum's after-school arts and education program, has performed at the Chicago Blues and the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel festivals, and is a fixture at blues clubs in Clarksdale. He said he would like to become a music teacher someday. Calvin looks forward to his first trip to Boston, where he plans on sharing with Berklee students ways of playing the blues with an authentic, Southern feel.

Kendra Savage, a 21-year-old resident of Crystal Springs, Mississippi, was the grand prize winner in the Robert Johnson Superstar Talent Showcase Finale in Crystal Springs on April 28, outperforming all contestants in her age group. Savage, a vocalist, performed "Yesterday," a gospel tune made famous by the duo Mary Mary. Like Calvin, she wins a full scholarship to the Five-Week Summer Performance Program.

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