Music Maker Relief Foundation

Freeman Vines holds a guitar that he carved out of wood thought to be from a tree that was used as a "hanging tree" in lynchings
Madeline Gray / For WUNC

The life of an aging blues or folk musician is not always pretty. Many of these old soulsters have not been able to retire with dignity. For the past 25 years, the Music Maker Relief Foundation has worked to improve the lives of these musicians. It has literally saved the lives and the music of more than 400 artists.

Elizabeth Cotten
Diana Davies

We've teamed up with Come Hear NC on a podcast series that explores North Carolina music one song at a time. On this episode, folk musician and Grammy nominee Alice Gerrard talks about one of her heroes, Elizabeth Cotten. Alice is the subject of 'You Gave Me A Song,' a documentary that premieres at The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham this weekend.

An image of Etta Baker
David Holt

We've teamed up with Come Hear NC on a podcast series that explores North Carolina music one song at a time. This week executive director of the North Carolina Arts Council Wayne Martin talks with Eric Hodge about guitarist Etta Baker. Also included on this week's episode is an exclusive performance of the song 'Crow Jane' by Etta Baker and her friend and fellow guitarist John Dee Holeman.

Courtesy Lakota John

Lakota John did not have to wait long to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a touring musician. At just 12 years old he was invited to travel across the country and play his ragtime blues.

Music Maker Relief Foundation

Ron Hunter was born and raised in a log cabin on a sharecropping farm in the countryside near Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As a kid he wanted to be a cowboy. He often donned a cowboy hat and practiced country-western songs while riding a make-believe horse. Later in life Hunter found a deep connection with the stories he can tell through the blues, and he gained recognition for his unique style.

Image of Pat Cohen
Music Maker Tintype, Tim Duffy and Aaron Greenhood

The Music Maker Relief Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping true pioneers and forgotten heroes of the blues gain recognition as well as meet their day-to-day needs.

The foundation teamed up with Duke Performances to commemorate their 20th anniversary with a series of summer concerts.

Captain Luke
MusicMakers Relief Foundation

Captain Luke, legendary blues musician, died early Tuesday morning at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. He was 87. 

 

Captain Luke, otherwise known as Luther Mayer, helped start the Music Maker Relief Foundation with Tim Duffy in the 1990s. The organization works with struggling roots and blues musicians to help preserve their music.