Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen (Photo by Aaron Greenhood)
Music Maker Foundation presents a program of authentic blues artists at the National Gallery of Art on Sunday, Feb. 26.
The performances are free to the public and include sets by guitarist Jeffery Scott, guitarist Gail Ceasar, soul artists Dedicated Men of Zion, and singer Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen.
Music Maker is a nonprofit that helps elderly, traditional, southern musicians living in poverty, both by recording their music and getting them gigs, and by helping them with day-to-day expenses like heating oil and medication.
For years, Pat sang in New Orleans six nights a week, performing at a wide array of venues including the House of Blues, until Hurricane Katrina destroyed her home. She relocated to East Spencer, North Carolina, and began touring with the Music Maker Blues Revue. Tragedy struck again in 2006 when a fire destroyed her house there. Music Maker helped her get a new place to live.
Watch a video trailer for Soul & Blues: A Music Maker Showcase at the National Gallery of Art on YouTube:
Pat’s performances have always unfurled the tapestry of her life experiences to her audience in soulful words and music. She shares the mettle, pathos, and ocean-deep compassion of the famous female blues singers she idolizes — women like Billie Holiday, Koko Taylor, and Etta James.
That compassion began to flow from Pat in brand new ways during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. As her scheduled gigs disappeared, she began playing one-woman shows at nursing homes. She even made phone calls to individual people and sang to them. These works of compassion wound up making her the subject of a touching story on “PBS Newshour.”
“Everybody has a currency,” Pat told PBS. “My currency is my voice. You don’t have to do what I do, but do something nice for somebody else. That makes you feel good, and that’s contagious.
All performances are free and open to the public.
Soul & Blues: A Music Maker Showcase
National Gallery of Art
Sunday, Feb. 26
Dedicated Men of Zion
Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen
Free to the public