Tim and Denise Duffy make extraordinary things seem possible. The founders of Music Maker’s Relief have touched hundreds of lives in real and authentic ways. They’ve concentrated on partnering with mostly eldery, African-American musicians throughout the American South. For over 25 years, their organization has worked with these musicians not only in finding them gigs and opportunities but also by helping to sustain them. They could help with medical expenses, rides to doctors visits, sometimes just checking in with them to help their isolation during these tough years.
Our conversation spans lots of topics including Tim’s journey through his education and his landing in Winston Salem NC beginning this work. We talk about the many projects the organization sponsors like a tribute to Elizabeth Cotten; the Freight Train Music Series held in Carrboro NC yearly. We chat about the amazing artist Freeman Vines who fashions guitars into works of art from trees used in lynching in the South. Tim partnered with Vines in both a book of photographs and a music CD called “Hanging Tree Guitars”. We also find out the ever busy Duffy has an exhibit of his tintype photographs at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.
Music Maker has helped hundreds of artists, recorded more than 7000 performances, released 2500 songs on CD and just last year wrangled over one thousand grants to these donor artists exceeding $200,000.
Tim Duffy’s energy and enthusiasm is clear when he speaks about his organization’s mission, his relationships built with these artists and the work ahead. People interested in exploring his organizations work can find more at musicmaker.org. Give this conversation a listen, it’s already a Town Crier favorite.