A $2.5 million Memphis facility provides a permanent address -- and a museum -- for the genre's foundation and its hall of fame.
Memphis has long touted itself as the home of the blues, and now the music has a permanent address in the Bluff City. On May 8, The Blues Foundation threw open the doors of its new headquarters, a renovated former storage facility that includes office space for the nonprofit's small staff as well as a hall of fame. Located just a few blocks from the Mississippi River in downtown's trendy arts district, the building overlooks the Lorraine Hotel -- the site of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1968 assassination and now home to the National Civil Rights Museum.
The building is a swan song for foundation president/CEO Jay Sieleman, who'll step down in September after a dozen years at the helm of the 35-year-old organization (which produces the annual Blues Music Awards and International Blues Challenge unsigned-talent contest). Having turned around the once-struggling foundation's finances, Sieleman and his board raised $2.9 million total to pay for the hall, which showcases 300 honorees -- artists as well as recordings, books and more.