by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Eighth-graders Hannah Chandler (from left), Gavin Lawler, Donovan Hamilton, Emma Stamm and Jared Weaver sing their hearts out during a dress rehearsal for the 'From African Rhythms to American Blues' Concert.For months, singer Ellen Whyte has been working with students as artist-in-residence at Estacada Junior High School.

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Ellen Whyte has spent her artist-in-residency at Estacada Junior High School introducing students to the blues.Whyte gave seventh- and eighth-grade social studies classes an in-depth introduction to blues music, weaving in lessons on its history, geography and cultural influences.

Each class wrote lyrics for their very own blues song which Whyte then set to music.

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Chael Skupa(from left), Tessa Liesegang sing along as  Hannah Strobel on flute Lauren Walters on violen provide accompaniment.The effort culminated in the “From African Rhythms to American Blues” concert, which the students performed with Whyte and keyboardist Jean Pierre Garau and Dave Mullany on guitar on Wednesday, April 9.

The students’ musical stylings included an ode to weekends and a rap tribute to Taco Bell.

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Seventh-grader Carson Beguelin gets into blues guitar.Whyte’s artist-in-residency was funded by Estacada Together and grants from the Regional Arts and Culture Council/Work for Art, The Collins Foundation, Estacada Community Foundation, Estacada Area Literary Foundation and the Clackamas County Cultural Coalition (through the Oregon Cultural Trust and managed by the Clackamas County Arts Alliance.)

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