Blues Hall of Famer Bobby Rush to Be a Visiting Scholar in the Arts at Rhodes

Blues Hall of Famer and Grammy nominee Bobby Rush has been named Rhodes College’s “Curb Visiting Scholar in the Arts.” Rush will visit the college during the 2014 spring semester and meet with students, the campus community, and the Memphis community in a series of events. He will be on campus Jan. 22-23, April 3, and April 24-25.

Rush’s visit is sponsored by the Mike Curb Institute for Music, which was established at Rhodes in 2006 through a generous gift from the Mike Curb Family Foundation. Rush is its first Visiting Scholar in the Arts.

“Having Bobby Rush as a visiting scholar exemplifies the Curb Institute’s commitment to preserve and understand the music of our culturally rich region,” says Dr. Russell Wigginton, vice president for external programs at Rhodes. “Mr. Rush is a treasure for our community, and we’re fortunate to have a relationship with him.”

A Louisiana native who has lived in Chicago and Jackson, Miss., Rush has been called a dynamic showman and blues legend. He had his first hit in 1971 with “Chicken Head” that was followed by a string of other hits. In 2006, Rush was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame and in 2008 presented its Blues Music Award for his 2007 album “Raw.” He also was honored as a guest to China in 2007 where he was the first American blues musician to perform at the Great Wall of China. Rush’s most recent work is his album “Down In Louisiana” (2013). Rush has garnered three nominations for the Blues Music Awards to be presented May 2014.

“Mr. Rush will be working with students in many different capacities, from sharing his stories about his life and career, to expounding upon his philanthropy, to working with students musically,” says John Bass, Curb Institute director. “We could not have picked a better representative for our first visiting scholar in the arts, and we are extremely excited about this semester.”

Rush’s visits in January will include in-classroom discussions with music students about his life and career in music as well as with students in Rhodes’ Search/Life program about his work in prison ministry and with veterans and especially how that work intersects with his faith.

In March, Rush will perform for a student-produced concert series at the house on Audubon Drive that was bought by Elvis in 1956 and is now part of the Mike Curb Institute. The format will be a mixture of interview and performance.

On April 3, Rush will be the featured guest artist performing with the Rhodes Jazz Band for its spring concert. The concert is scheduled to be held at the new Hi Tone Cafe on N. Cleveland St. in the Crosstown neighborhood and represents a partnership between Rhodes, Crosstown Arts, and the Hi Tone Café.

At the end of the semester on April 25, students will give presentations on their time with Rush and a formal ceremony will be held, along with performances by student bands.

For more information, contact Dr. John Bass, director of the Mike Curb Institute for Music, at or (901) 843-3786.