Photography exhibit celebrating Southern musicians open at Blue Ridge Music Center through August

(GALAX) — The Blue Ridge Music Center is presenting the exhibit, We are the Music Makers! Preserving the Soul of America’s Music, noon to 4 p.m., now through Saturday, Aug. 31 at Blue Ridge Music Center, 700 Foothills Road, Galax. Admission is free.

The exhibit features photography and stories of Southern blues, gospel, and old-time musicians collected during the past 20 years by Tim Duffy, founder and executive director of the Music Makers Relief Foundation.

The exhibit challenges how poverty, geography, and age have limited the exposure of these artists. Featuring blues musicians from Virginia, North Carolina, and beyond, the exhibit educates and engages viewers in the cultural history of many Southern music traditions, including the treasured influences of African-American artists such as Winston-Salem blues guitarist Guitar Gabriel, old-time fiddler Benton Flippen, North Carolina Heritage Award Winner and National Heritage Fellow Etta Baker, Piedmont blues guitarists John Dee Holeman, Aldophus Bell, and Boo Hanks, Old-Time Medicine Show performer Willa Mae Buckner, old-time band The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Native American singers Charley Lowrey and Pure Fe, and blues vocalist Cora Mae Bryant. In addition to the photographs, visitors are invited to visit a supplemental website which provides audio and video components for each panel.

“‘Blues is a spirit.’ All the great blues players say it. Guitar Gabriel used to say it all the time. But that spirit can only find expression through people—through real artists like Gabe and Cootie Stark and Etta Baker and Cool John Ferguson and so many others that have been and are yet to come,” Duffy said. “Music Maker works to help take care of the artists that give this spirit expression. By doing so, they promote and preserve some of America’s most significant cultural traditions. This exhibit is a testament to the spirit of the blues as expressed through the musicians that exemplify and carry forward this uniquely American music.”

Now celebrating 20 years, the Music Maker Relief Foundation was created to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time.

For more information, visit or, or call (866) 308-2773, ext. 212.

The Blue Ridge Music Center, milepost 213 near Galax, Virginia, celebrates the music and musicians of the Blue Ridge Mountains. On Saturdays Memorial Day through Labor Day, its outdoor amphitheater at the foot of Fisher Peak comes alive through a vibrant and diverse concert series. The site includes the Roots of American Music Museum, an indoor interpretive center that highlights an important strand of American musical culture that still thrives in the region. Midday Mountain Music performances are offered free from noon to 4 p.m. daily. The Music Center also offers scenic trails for novice and seasoned hikers. The visitor center and museum are open May through Nov. 3 and admission is free. The site is operated through a partnership between the National Park Service and Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. For more information, visit



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