The Healing Blues Experience

PRESENTATION #1 Abstract or Summary: The Healing Blues Experience includes a brief history of the blues, connection to African-American history with a focus on overcoming difficult situations and interactive story-telling by participants. The use of culturally responsive music, especially the blues, provides a way for participants to connect with their history while also telling their own stories of trauma and overcoming. This performance seeks to use blues music experience to increased community awareness of cultural traditions and practices as a way of lessening trauma exposure. The performer, Rick Rushing, lives and works in Chattanooga, also known as “The Scenic City” has a complicated history including the Cherokee Removal and Trail of Tears, the first organized Labor Strike, and the lynching of Ed Johnson on the Walnut Street Bridge which resulted in federal legislation to outlaw lynchings. The city is considered by many a key chapter in the blues history of the South as told through the blues music of Bessie Smith. Today, the city remains segregated by race and class and has some of the most gentrified zip codes in the United States. The African-American community in Chattanooga has experienced many forms of trauma: historical trauma, poverty amplified through gentrification, low-performing K-12 schools, limited employment opportunities, poor health outcomes, and high rates of gang involvement. In the 2015 report, Picture of our Health: Hamilton County, Tennessee 2015 Community Health Profile, violent crime was ranked as the #2 perceived top health problem in the county.