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Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame planning gets underway

bluesCLARKSDALE — Los Angeles-based architect, Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY Architecture Inc., is teaming up with organizers of the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame to get the Clarksdale, Mississippi, project moving.

Yantrasast and his team met with Hall of Fame founders LaMont Robinson and Cheryl Ruffin in Clarksdale this past week.

“What we believe as architects,” said Yantrasast, “is that you build a museum, and the museum in turn really revives the region. There will be international recognition. We are going to do something really world class.”

Yantrasast’s team has been responsible for the construction of the Louisville Speed Art Museum, the Bibliotheca Alexandria Center in Cairo, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and has constructed galleries and exhibits for the Chicago Museum of Art and the Harvard Art Museums, among others.

Yantrasast and his company became involved in the project due to a hometown connection. Quinlin Messenger, son of Roy Messenger, works in wHY’s Los Angeles office.

“When I learned of this project, I became excited about the prospect of doing something great for my father’s home town,” said Messenger.

He contacted the organizing committee for the Hall of Fame in Clarksdale, and arraigned an initial meeting with Yantrasast and the committee in January. Yantrasast, Messenger and Mark Thomann from their New York office returned to town this past weekend to meet with Robinson,

Ruffin and local members of the organizing committee as well as representatives from both the city and county governments.

The group discussed the vision for the project, as well as the various needs and possible locations.

“We don’t want to duplicate anything that’s been done anywhere else,” said Robinson. “We have to incorporate a 21st century feel with the technology, but still retain a sense of nostalgia. It has to be highly interactive. I think we can be creative without going over budget.”

The museum will tell the story of the evolution of American popular music through technology, memorabilia and murals. The facility will include a 300 seat theater, a restaurant and a juke joint in addition to the museum, which will house the R&B Hall of Fame, the National Gospel Hall of Fame, and other exhibits.

“It has to be immersive,” said Yantrasast. “And it has to have room to grow.”

Mac Crank, city economic development coordinator and organizing committee member said, “We have redirected our economic engine toward cultural tourism.”

He spoke to the group about how the R&B Hall of Fame would fit in with the other museums in town and with the city’s plans for the future.

Crank said, “What you have with the three museums in this market is a cluster of museums that exhibit the entire history of American popular music and how it evolved from music born right here.”

— The Clarksdale Press Register

 

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  1. Contact: LaMont Robinson
    Ph: 440-532-2389

    PRESS RELEASE

    LITTLE RICHARD, ELVIS PRESLEY, MILLIE JACKSON, AND THE BAR-KAYS, BOBBY RUSH TO BE INDUCTED INTO RHYTHM AND BLUES MUSIC HALL OF FAME

    The Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame & Museum will host its 3rd annual Induction Ceremony in the city of Clarksdale, Mississippi on June 6, 2015 at the Clarksdale Civic Auditorium. The Red Carpet will start at 5:00 p.m. and the induction ceremony will start at 6:00 p.m.

    LaMont “ShowBoat” Robinson, founder of the project, said “We are so proud to be bringing the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame and Museum to Clarksdale, and this induction ceremony is going to honor the greats of Rhythm & Blues in the place where American popular music was born.”

    The 2015 class of inductees includes Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Millie Jackson, Bobby Rush, The Bar-Kay’s, Sam and Dave, Al Bell, Ike Turner, The Mad Lads, Stax Records, Dorothy Moore, Muddy Waters, Denise LaSalle, Little Junior Parker and WDIA radio station.

    Robinson said, “Clarksdale is the perfect home for this project. This area has been so important to the history of American music and global music culture that we felt this was the best place to enshrine and honor the legends of R&B. Delta Blues became Rhythm & Blues, and we are proud to be bringing our Museum and Hall of Fame to Clarksdale. This is where it all began.”

    Other awards to be presented include The Rhythm & Blues Lifetime Achievement Award to Morgan Freeman, actor and nightclub owner; The Rhythm & Blues Humanitarian Award to Joe Jackson, father of pop icon Michael Jackson; The Robert Johnson Rising Star Award to Christone “Kingfish” Ingram and The Juke Joint of the Year Award to Ground Zero Blues Club.

    Plans are underway for the establishment of a permanent museum in Clarksdale to enshrine those inducted into the Hall of Fame. Clarksdale has long been a top destination for music tourists from around the world, and is home to numerous festivals and events that draw thousands of visitors every year. Home to the Delta Blues Museum, the Juke Joint Festival, and the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival, Clarksdale has begun to reinvent itself following years of declining population as industry moved to larger cities and mechanization displaced thousands of farm workers over the previous generations.

    Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett said, “We are happy to have been chosen as the home of the Official Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame. Clarksdale is more than ready for this opportunity.”

    Bobby Rush will headline the induction ceremony performances. Tickets are $25.00 in advance and $35.00 at the door and may be purchased online at rhythmandblueshof.com or by phone at (662) 302-0466. They are also available in Clarksdale at Delta Keepsakes, 241 Yazoo Ave. in Clarksdale.

    Luckett said, “Clarksdale is known to people around the world, who may not know much more about America, in some cases, we’ve found out. Our name is synonymous with music history, and that’s what people come here to experience. Then they keep coming back because they had so much fun.”

    The induction ceremony is being sponsored by The Clarksdale Press-Register, WROX, Isle of Capri Casino, The City of Clarksdale, and Coahoma County Board of Supervisors.

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