Saving the music

Feb. 02, 2014 @ 12:39 PM

You have never heard of these artists, but they have been composing, writing and singing for more than 50 years. They are not forgotten. They did not come into fame and disappear in fame’s shadow. They are not stage names. They are important in folk and musical heritage and they are becoming known now, even famous, touring and composing, and, in many cases, putting out a first album, in their 60s, 70s, and 80s.
And what makes this all the more special is that all of this is from the efforts of a man and a following of believers at the office of Music Maker Foundation, it is all occurring in Hillsborough.
“All roots and genre of music can be traced to the South and Hillsborough and this part of the state is a direct link to the music we enjoy today,” said Tim Duffy, founder of the foundation.
Founded in 1994, the foundation exists for the pure purpose of giving musicians, over the age of 55 who embody the spirit of folk music, the opportunity they always wanted, but never had the means to chase: for people to hear the words, feel the soul, and know them as an artist. “Many of these artists we are working with are or live way below the poverty level; we are talking $5,000 to $7,000 a year and this is all that a family has,” Duffy said. With the help of grants, such as the National Endowment of the Arts, and private donations, and assistance from known artists like Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King an Eric Clapton, to name a few, these musicians are given the tools needed for an artist to be an artist. “We take people from a trailer park and they are performing around the world in major venues and recording their first albums in there 70s and 80s,” Duffy said.
One such example is a Boo Hanks, who lives in nearby Virgilina. Hanks is a featured artist at Music Maker and his songs of picking tobacco serenade any soul that has ever spent time in a tobacco field in the South. Through Music Maker, Hanks recorded his first album at 79 and played at the Lincoln Center at the age of 82. He is one of many that Duffy and the foundation have helped.
“We’ve helped over 300 artists in the last 20 years,” Duffy said. The foundation assists with the necessities of life and gives these soulful creating voices the opportunity to live a dream that was always echoed in the music they created. “We take artists that are no less important than anyone else that has ever made music and we put them in front of the public eye and bring them out for the world to hear and see what authentic, legendary, and roots-based music sounds like,” Duffy said. While the world is constantly changing its musical genre popularity, Duffy and his staff in the office on Corbin Street are hoping to bring to center stage artist and composers that contributed much to the music of our world, even if they only play their first concert at the age of 82.
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To learn more visit
Music Maker Relief Foundation
PO Box 1358
Hillsborough, NC  27278
224 West Corbin Street
Hillsborough, NC  27278
Phone (919) 643-2456
Fax (888) 238-8592
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