Sonny Boy Williamson Community Center

Blues Harp Summit
Sonny Boy Williamson II
Library and Community Center
Glendora, Mississippi

On December 5th and 6th, 1998, prominent blues harmonica players from around the country will convene in the Mississippi Delta town of Glendora, birthplace of blues legend Sonny Boy Williamson II (Aleck Rice Miller), to pay tribute to his musical legacy and conduct a blues harp teach-in to benefit the town's newly-opened Sonny Boy Williamson Library and Community Center.

Lee Oskar, Blind Mississippi Morris, Jumpin' Johnny Sansone, Bruce 'Sunpie' Barnes, Rockin' Jake of New Orleans, Mark McGrain (of the Anders Osborne Band), Arthur Williams, and regional players Steve Cheseborough, Dave Thaden and Ron Pierce have all committed to the weekend. Tentatively scheduled to attend are also Sugar Blue, Rod Piazza, Paul deLay, and T.J. Wheeler.

Sonny Boy Williamson
Art work by Bix Smith

Other supporters of the event include The Southern Music Network of Alabama, who have donated a case of 100 harmonicas to the children to be taught at the event; Hohner Harmonica Company has donated an additional 50 harps, plus advertising funds to permit a souvenir program to be issued; Lee Oskar Harmonicas has donated a dozen valuable player-autographed harmonicas to be used as raffle prizes in a book and record donation campaign for the Center, as will be 10 vintage Sonny Boy tee-shirts donated by the Hohner Company.

All player/teachers and other supporters of the event are volunteering their time and skills without pay to benefit the Center and the town of Glendora, an extraordinarily impoverished community even by the usual dire standards of the Mississippi Delta area. With a population of 400, more than 93% of its inhabitants live more than 50% below the poverty limit. Children comprise 167 of Glendora's citizens, many of whom are relatives of Sonny Boy Williamson but had never heard his music until a video about him was shown at the Center's dedication last August. Glendora's mayor, Johnny B. Thomas, is himself a cousin of Sonny Boy on his mother's side.

Selected portions of the harp teach-in and the Harp Summit performances will be netcasted via the Southern Music Network, as well as archived on their web site for listening. Several national and regional music publications and broadcast entities will also be on hand to report on the event.

Additional corporate and private funding is needed to help defray the travel expenses of the player/teachers who are volunteering their time; interested sponsors can contact Maggie Mortensen, the volunteer coordinator of the event, by telephone at 530.873.9048 or by email at Efforts are also being made to secure performance dates on the evenings of the teach-in weekend for the "harp summit" players in the Memphis/North Mississippi area to help reimburse the volunteer teachers for their time.

The Sonny Boy Williamson Community Center and Library is in need of all of the kinds of items imaginable: books, records, videos, computer equipment, etc. Mayor Thomas's own particular wish is for video equipment which would enable the Center to offer skills training to Glendora's residents via satellite connections.

Individuals interested in donating books, records, or equipment to the Sonny Boy Center can send them in care of:

Mr. Tom Freeland
PO Box 629
Oxford, Mississippi 38655

where they will all be collected for a mass presentation to the Center at the time of the Harp Teach-in Weekend.

Financial donations to the Center should be made out to:

Sonny Boy Williamson Community Center and Library
C/O Glendora Economic and Commercial Development Corporation
132 Main Street
Glendora, Mississippi 38929

All contributions will be tax-deductible under the Glendora ECDC's non-profit status, and all donors will be eligible to win the premiums donated by supporters.

Updates on the event itself as the date draws nearer, including additional player/teachers and sponsors as they are added, will be available as a page on Andrew Campbell's "official" Sonny Boy Williamson web site at