TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Like the old Johnny Cash song, the Alabama Blues Project will soon have its own home of the blues — a permanent spot, just around the corner from heartache.
The Tuscaloosa-based Alabama Blues Project has been migrating from one available space to another for the past two decades, The Tuscaloosa News reported . The nonprofit organization provides blues music programs for children and adults.
"We've been working really hard for 20 years, and during those 20 years, we've never really had a home," said Shannon McCue, executive director of Alabama Blues Project. "I think that this is going to help us really take off."
Now, it has been offered space in the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center in Tuscaloosa. The arts center is also home to the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra and Tuscaloosa Arts Council.
Organizers of the Blues Project say that being housed at the arts center will allow it to collaborate with other arts organizations and reach more people across the state.
Having an office space will help Alabama Blues Project expand its work across the state in the future, giving them a more stable foundation on which to grow, said Kiera Gillock, development coordinator for Alabama Blues Project.
"As we look to the future of the organization, we are aiming to be able to work a little farther across the state," Gillock said. "We are very excited for this opportunity and to take the next step in the project's life."
The mission of the Alabama Blues Project is to promote and preserve the blues as a traditional and contemporary art form, with particular focus on the contributions from Alabama's best blues musicians, the Tuscaloosa newspaper reported.
The project reaches students ages 6 through 18 annually through its after-school camps, clubs and advanced ensembles, all of which are led by professional blues musicians. Many of the students are from underserved communities that often lack programs focused on arts education.
Educating students in arts history is important to Alabama history as well, McCue said.
"The Alabama Blues Project is really unique because we are one of the only programs in the state that is using music that specifically came from Alabama to teach students about Alabama," McCue said. "So it's giving students pride in their home state and getting them to realize that this is the root of much of the modern music that we hear today."