Save the Music

José Luis Villegas is a working photojournalist, currently with the Sacramento Bee. This project, "Save the Music", is the story of keeping music alive. Blues music. Music born in slavery. The music that begat rock n’ roll. The music touched by God and the devil. The music that lives within rap and soul, but is dying on its own.

This is the story of America’s purest music at a cross roads, a time when the Prophet’s of soul are dying and only the great B.B. King can claim mass acceptance. For the rest, a living and an audience can be found in Europe. While in America, the voices of slaves and Negro spirituals grows ever fainter, the culture of the south fades away.

All that's left now is a lost clan of blues disciples fighting to keep the blues alive. This is their story and the story of America—at it’s worst and best. In 1991 Villegas began documenting some of the most influential blues musicians of our time. These men embody America's south and its culture as the birthplace of Blues Music."Save the Music” focuses on artists as icons of America’s music and their struggle to save the Blues. Some through performance, others through teaching. Charles Brown, Johnny Billington, James Cotton, Champion Jack Dupree, Eddie Cusic, Willie Foster, B.B. King, Albert King, Sunnyland Slim, Lowell Folson, John Lee Hooker, Big Jack Johnson and Othar Turner, all champion the music and the message.

Villegas says, "One thing is certain in life—death. These images are my small tribute to the music I love, and the people who allowed me into their lives." More photographs by José Luis Villegas can be seen at his website.


Charles Brown - Monterey, California. 1991

 Othar Turner, fife player from Como, Mississippi. 1997

 Lowell Fulson - Monterey, California. 1991

Willie Foster - Clarksdale, Mississippi. 1997

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Meyers Investment Group of Baird

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Viewpoint Photographic Art Center is the proud recipient of a SMAC Cultural Arts Award grant.

Individual Sponsorships
(Luminance Level & Above)

Diane Tempest

J.B. Jones

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