The natural venues for many traditional musical artists have evaporated in our increasingly homogenous, media dominated culture. With no place to perform these musicians are without an audience and have no means of making a living through their art. The purpose of M.M.R.F. Inc. is to provide these artists what they need to make music. We strive to accomplish this goal through financial assistance and advocacy programs.
Meeting a new artist, we discuss their needs and desires, in both their musical careers and standard of living. Music Maker makes many grants of cash or in kind awards to cover life necessities. The size and shape of relief varies with the individual's needs. The foundation has purchased vehicles, groceries, prescription medication, heating oil and other basics. This area is perhaps the most disheartening, as the need is immense. When writing our by-laws the initial maximum income requirement we contemplated was an annual income ceiling of $12,000. Our accountant advised us to raise this to $18,000 as he feared too many potential recipients would not qualify. Although we took his advice, he was shocked to learn that the average annual income of the artists we work with is $4,800. The foundation strives to help as much as it can in this area but our funding at this time does not permit us to radically change the lifestyles of our recipient artists simply through cash awards.
Our programs are most effective for people who still desire a career in music. Initially many artists we contact do not own a decent instrument. We have made substantial progress in rectifying this situation. High quality guitars have been procured for Etta Baker, J.W. Warren, John Fergeson Jr., Carl Hodges, Thomas Gable, the late Guitar Gabriel, Drink Small, Jimmie Lee Williams, Precious Bryant and Cootie Stark. Other instruments have been purchased for or made available to artists as well as instrument repair and maintenance funds.
Eugene Powell, age 88 of Greenville, MS, like some other recipients, only wishes to make a few public appearances each year. In spite of this Eugene maintains a public persona and Music Maker has been able to supplement his income by providing promotional tee-shirts (see contribution form) that he can sell at festivals and from his home. We have also provided tee-shirts for Willa Mae Buckner, Mr. Q and Guitar Gabriel.
Music Maker is also a service provider. Assistance can be as simple as a ride to the doctor's office or as critical as an advocate in dealing with bureaucracies (ie. housing authorities, nursing home care, Social Security Commission, etc.). A particularly useful service we provide is passport acquisition for artists desiring the opportunity to perform abroad. This is often more challenging than you would expect. The majority of Music Maker artists were born in rural areas of the South early in this century. Home births were quite common and even in the case of hospital births there was often no documentation. What birth certificates we can find are often riddled with misspellings and inaccuracies rendering them insufficient proof to the State Department. To further verify birth information we then track school records, census reports and marriage certificates. Although only two forms of ID are required we often have to track down many more to find those with consistent names and dates. More than once we have had to have birth certificates amended to be consistent with later records. Arduous though it may be, the process is instantly worthwhile when an artist like Mr. Q insists his photo be snapped as he deplanes to make his European debut.
Another service we offer is road management to artists travelling far from home. By working together with promoters we have been able to bring artists nationwide and abroad. We have provided escort to Precious Bryant, Captain Luke, Willa Mae Buckner, Macavine Hayes, John Dee Holeman, John Lee Zeigler, Rufus McKenzie, Big Boy Henry, Cootie Stark, Mr. Q, Carl Hodges, the late Guitar Gabriel and Jack Owens. On a continuing basis Music Maker works to promote these artists and connect them with quality festivals and other first rate gigs in the US and abroad.
The foundation also provides legal advocacy to artists in dealings with the music industry. Thomas Gable recently came to us desiring release from a particularly unfavorable management contract depriving him of 60% of his income in performance and recording. He was further relieved of 75% of his publishing income as the unworthy party had assigned co-authorship of Gable's work to himself in the copyright filing. We gathered the facts and presented them to legendary entertainment attorney Bill Krasilovsky. He has done his best to extricate Gable from this onerous arrangement and Gable is free to go on in his work.
What is most rewarding to our volunteers and patrons is the transformation that takes place when the musical gift of artists that have been isolated and inactive for many years is suddenly rekindled. Fingers that haven't touched the fret board in ages become once again limber and articulate. Song writers who haven't composed in twenty years rediscover their voice and have so much to share. What seems to make the difference is not the monetary amount of assistance received but that someone cares and is interested in their musical expression. M.M.R.F. Inc. recognizes the bountiful cultural treasure embodied in its recipient artists. We try and do the most for the most with our limited resources and appreciate all of the time and funding provided by our supporters.
In 1994 Tim Duffy and Mark Levinson founded Music Maker Relief Foundation, Inc. To raise money they released two cds. There is a very limited quantity of these releases available. These will be collectors items.
Music Maker Relief Foundation, Inc., 4052 Summer Lane , Hillsborough, NC 27278
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel:919 643 2456 Fax:919 643 2597