Zora Young, an internationally known Chicago-based blues artist, is the big draw for the White Lake Blues Fest this year.
WHITEHALL, MI — Zora Young, an internationally known Chicago-based blues artist, is the big draw for the White Lake Blues Fest this year.
The event which is sponsored by the Killer Blues Headstone Project, will be held at the Howmet Playhouse at 304 S. Mears Ave. in downtown Whitehall at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 4.
“Zora is the real deal, blues woman,” said Steve Salter, the president of the Killer Blues Headstone Project. “She has preformed with a who’s who of the blues world all while traveling around the world delivering honest heartfelt stories of real people living the blues.”
In addition to playing gigs across the globe, Young has the distinction of headlining the main stage at the Chicago Blues Festival six times, as well as performing on stage with renowned blues artists such as B.B. King, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy and Albert King.
“This is the first time we’ve had an artist of Zora’s stature come here to play for us,” said Steve Salter, the president of the Killer Blues Headstone Project. “So we’re excited about that.”
Hank Mowery & the Hawktones, a popular blues group from Grand Rapids will be Young’s back up musicians at the event. Brian Curran, an up-and-coming blues and folk artist from St. Louis, will be the opener.
The yearly music festival was established in 2008 to raise funds to buy headstones for deceased blues performers’ gravesites.
According to Salter, the money that has been raised through the blues shows has enabled his organization to purchase 14 headstones so far.
“Our mission statement is to provide headstones for blues artists lying in unmarked graves,” Salter explained. “We are proud of what we have accomplished so far and owe much of our success to West Michigan blues fans.”
With the proceeds from last year’s show the organization was able to purchase two headstones.
This year the goal is to provide headstones for three blues artists interned at Restvale Cemetery in Chicago, the same graveyard where blues legend Muddy Waters is buried.
“The primary person is going to be Bonnie Lee, also known as the sweetheart of the blues. She’s going to be our primary focus,” Salter said.
He thought it seemed appropriate to focus on finding a headstone for Lee because she and Young toured together while she was alive.
Lee, like many blues musicians, lived in poverty while she was creating music that has lived on long after she died. Salter sees his project as a way of paying tribute to the lasting impact of artists like Lee who never experienced the financial success they deserved in their lifetime.
“It’s all about honoring their legacy and recognizing the art that they left for us,” Salter said.
At the event, the blues lover will be promoting his recently published calendar book, “Every Day I Have the Blues,” a record of the dates of birth and death of more than 1200 blues artists.
Tickets for the White Lake Blues Fest are available at White Lake City Hall, the HarborLight Credit Union or at the door at the Howmet Playhouse the night of the show.
The cost to attend is $15 and all proceeds go to the headstone project.
More information about the event is available at the Killer Blues website.