“The BLUES is real. It’s the heart and soul of music. It’s a life not seen through rose-colored glasses, but a life of the street. It’s not a fantasy, it’s the truth, it’s raw blatant, brutal, honesty, with a great base line and lyric”.
- Michael Maness
One of the most inspiring artists I’m fortunate enough to know is Mississippi painter, and longtime supporter of the Blues, Michael Maness. Over a decade and a half ago, Michael had just painted BB King when he happened upon an article about The Blues Foundation needing donations. He drove to Memphis, double parked in front of their office, and delivered 100 BB King lithographs. 100% of the profits went to the Blues Foundation. He’s been donating to and painting for the Blues Foundation ever since. Michael was the official artist for the Blues Music Awards in 2006 and recipient of the Keeping the Blues Alive Award in 2010.
Not only is Michael’s vibrant and energetic work inspiring, so is his generosity and perseverance. Over the span of 20 years, he has donated over $6 million to 150 charities worldwide. For 16 of those years, he battled lymphoma, bone cancer and underwent various medical procedures. All this, while caring for his mom, who herself suffered multiple strokes and a heart attack.
In the fall of 2018, I received a phone call from Jerry Williams, Paul Revere and the Raider’s manager. He told me Michael had painted my portrait and wanted me to stop by to sign it. I was truly honored and blown away by his painting. I’d never had someone paint me with so much color and energy.
Jaki, the kids and I had the opportunity to meet Michael and “Mom” for dinner a couple times following our original meet up. He insisted on two things, that we order whatever we want and that he pick up the check. We truly enjoyed our time with both of them. He has lived so much life in his short time on this earth and we had the opportunity to learn about a small portion of it over those meals. What resonated most with me was his love and devotion to “Mom” and his genuine concern and regard towards all mankind. His generosity continues, as he has allowed me to print t-shirts of his painting. To learn more about Michael Maness and see his work, visit http://www.artbympm.com