On Friday March 26, Gateway to the Arts awarded the second Root American Music Award, named after musicologist and former Gateway Board President Deane Root, to Boyce Campus Middle College High School teacher, Joanne Krett.
The award recognizes an exceptional teacher who has participated in the Center for American Music at the University of Pittsburgh's Voices Across Time program, designed to assist teachers from different disciplines in incorporating American music into their curricula. Krett, an English teacher, uses music and lyrics as primary learning material, as a tool to connect to the humanities overall and to engage her students more deeply in the curriculum.
In addition to this recognition, Joanne and her students also received a free performance program by the acoustic blues duo Wiggins and Harris sponsored by Gateway in cooperation with Calliope: Pittsburgh Folk Music Society.
Comprised of Phil Wiggins, harp, and Corey Harris, guitar, the duo treated the 10-12th grade students to a spectacular blues history lesson. With covers of Sleepy John Estes "Everybody Oughta Make a Change" and Mississippi John Hurt's "Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor", they introduced the students to blues styles including Memphis, Piedmont and Delta. Wiggins explained about "blow" and "draw" notes and how his dozen harmonicas are pre-tuned to differing keys. Harris explained the tradition of the Resonator guitar, what made it different from most acoustic guitars and how it was better suited to be heard over the noise of a crowd at house parties in the 1920s and 1930s.
Joanne Krett's reception of the Root American Music Award and her work in the classroom was highlighted in this April 1 article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Wiggins and Harris' Calliope performance, which occured the following evening on March 27, 2010, was reviewed here by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Visit our facebook page to view additional images of Wiggins and Harris at Boyce Middle College High School.
top image: Joanne Krett, Phil Wiggins, Corey Harris, and Deane Root
middle image: Wiggins and Harris at Boyce Middle College High School
bottom image: Phil Wiggins and a dozen harps