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The Blues Foundation and Hall of Fame Unveil Their New Home in Memphis

Blue Foundation and Hall of Fame, Memphis 2015
Joseph Llanes

The Blue Foundation and Blue Hall of Fame photographed on May 6, 2015 in Memphis, Tenn.

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.

First Look: Blues Foundation Facility Finds a Permanent Home for the Blues

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.

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"This is a good note to leave on," says Sieleman, 62. "I'm at an age where I can retire, and I've done about all I can do here. It's time for some new blood."

For a first look at memorabilia from the Blues Hall of Fame, click here.  

This story originally appeared in the May 23 issue of Billboard