February 29, 2024

Leesburg Art Students Pay Tribute to African American Blues Icons

2.4 min read| Published On: February 29th, 2024|

By Cindy Peterson

Leesburg Art Students Pay Tribute to African American Blues Icons

2.4 min read| Published On: February 29th, 2024|

Four Leesburg High School students were chosen to create a piece of artwork inspired by African American musicians that have influenced today’s music landscape. The exhibit launched last Friday at the Leesburg Center for the Arts, and will run through the end of March. 

“We wanted to honor black Americans that are often lost in todays culture,” organizer Josh Floyd says. “Pretty much 99 percent of all the music we listen to is a direct result and influenced by the people on these walls, and a lot of the public just doesn’t know.”

Event organizers Josh Floyd and Richard Colvin

With the support of a grant from the United Arts, Josh partnered with LCFA director Richard Colvin to curate a collection that not only showcases artistic talent, but also educates the community about the African American blues icons who have shaped modern music.

“Some of the greatest art forms in American history were because of African American culture synthesis with Americans,” Richard says. “It’s a backwards study really. You have to start with the artists you recognize, like Elvis, Pat Boone, Rolling Stones, then go backwards to find out who wrote the songs or who originally performed them, because most of ‘black’ music was given a white face.”  

Richard, a guitarist and music-lover himself, also has artwork on display paying tribute to his personal icons. 

“My particular idol is Albert King,” Richard says. “Not that I didn’t like B.B. and Freddie, but Albert was my guy, and who had the biggest influence on Stevie Ray Vaughan.” 

Leesburg students Alyssa Tennyson, Ramiyah Williams, Nayloani Silcott and Kiara Brooks all created a piece inspired by Blues icons, including Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf and T-Bone Walker. 

Each of the four student artists will receive a $500 honorarium, providing them with their first paid art exhibit gig and recognizing their outstanding contributions to the showcase. The Leesburg Art department was also gifted $1,000. 

“When we announced that we were going to be paying all the artists at the opening, there was one dad that really stood out,” Josh says. “It think it was the first time he realized how talented his daughter really was and that she could do this for a living. These kids are incredible and their art is just amazing.”

The African American Blues Icons exhibit will be open during ArtFest this weekend, so be sure to stop by. It will continue to be on display through the end of March. 

“This hit the mission of the Leesburg Center for the Arts right in the bullseye,” Josh says, “which is providing art education to the community, involving the community by bringing students in and combining the music and art aspect of it.” 

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About the Author: Cindy Peterson

Originally from the small town of Berryville, Arkansas, Cindy has become a multimedia specialist in journalism, photography, videography and video editing.

She has a B.S. in Communications from the University of Central Arkansas and is a correspondent for The Daily Commercial, LakeFront TV and Beacon College’s PBS talk show, “A World of Difference,” where she received an Anthem Award and Telly Award.

When she isn’t working, Cindy spends time with her husband, Ryan, and son, David, traveling and taking photos of landscapes and wildlife.

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