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State Department of Education Teams Up to Promote West Virginia Musicians

September 15, 2008

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame want to make sure schoolchildren know about the rich music traditions that flow from the Mountain State.

The West Virginia Music Hall of Fame is creating a 28-foot traveling museum that will begin visiting all 55 counties in next spring. The mobile exhibit will contain artifacts and memorabilia from West Virginia musicians of every musical genre, from country and rock 'n' roll to classical, traditional and jazz. Musicians from every part of the state will be featured in the exhibit.

The exhibit also will include a make your own CD studio that will enable students to record a song, either accompanying themselves on guitar or keyboards, or singing to a pre-recorded track.

“Students in the 21st century must master problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, communication skills, financial and technology literacy and global and cultural awareness,” said state Superintendent Steve Paine. “Arts programs encourage students to think creatively and adopt fresh approaches. This exhibit is a wonderful way to expose children to one aspect of the arts.”

An interactive map about the who’s who of West Virginia music also will be part of the exhibit. By clicking on any county, students will be able to learn about five local musicians who have distinguished themselves through the music. A photo, short biography and a song sample, where possible, will be available for each musician.

But before the exhibit is unveiled, organizers are seeking student input with the help of music teachers. Students are being asked to provide names of 10 notable musicians from their county or area, along with a biography, photo and music samples. The biography should include birth date and death date, if applicable, birthplace and a list of accomplishments. Information on notable music educators also will be accepted. The nominations will be considered for use in the traveling exhibit’s interactive map, not honorees for the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.

The first members of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame were inducted in November, 2007. Inductees included singer and songwriter Bill Withers, who was born in Slab Fork, Raleigh County. Withers composed some of the best known hits of the '70s including "Lean On Me," "Use Me" and "Ain't No Sunshine." Artists who have recorded his songs include Mick Jagger, Crystal Gayle, Nancy Wilson, Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Tom Jones, Linda Ronstadt, Joe Cocker and Johnny Mathis, among others.

For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.

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