The Blues Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Patricia Wilson Aden as its next President & CEO. Aden brings more than three decades of non-profit management experience to the Foundation, with a specialization in the preservation and celebration of African American cultural resources. Her most recent experience as President & CEO of the African American Museum in Philadelphia and her earlier role as Executive Director of the Rhythm & Blues Foundation make her uniquely qualified to lead The Blues Foundation and its Blues Hall of Fame. Aden stated, “I am genuinely excited to join The Blues Foundation and the Blues community in celebrating the Blues and the artists who have made it America’s original musical genre.”
Aden will join the Foundation’s staff on October 1, 2020.
Aden succeeds Barbara Newman, who will begin her retirement September 30th. Under Newman’s leadership, The Blues Foundation saw marked growth in engagement and reach in all facets of the organization’s operations. She embraced technology to offer greater access to and programming of major Blues Foundation events, including The International Blues Challenge and Blues Music Awards, forged new industry alliances, and amplified awareness of organizational activities in fulfilling The Blues Foundation’s mission to preserve, celebrate, and expand awareness of the Blues genre.
Most recently, she led the charge to develop a relief fund to provide financial support for basic living necessities to Blues musicians whose income streams have evaporated in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the first of April, that fund has raised over $250,000 and assisted close to 250 musicians. Throughout her tenure, she has prioritized strong fiscal management and is leaving The Blues Foundation well-situated to further advance its mission under Aden’s leadership.
Michael Freeman, Chairman of The Blues Foundation’s Board of Directors, added, “On behalf of the global Blues community we wish Barbara Newman the very best for a wonderful retirement and with the greatest appreciation for her tireless dedication to The Blues Foundation as its President & CEO. Thanks to her vision and leadership we are well positioned to welcome Patty Aden as our new President & CEO to continue the forward movement of the organization. We are thrilled to have found such an experienced and well-respected leader and look forward to welcoming her on October 1st.”
Based in Memphis, Tenn., the home of the blues, The Blues Foundation is world-renowned as THE organization with a mission to preserve blues heritage, celebrate blues recording and performance, expand worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensure the future of this uniquely American art form. With approximately 4,000 individual members and more than 170 affiliated local blues societies, it represents hundreds of thousands of blues fans and professionals around the world.
In addition to the Blues Music Awards, the Foundation’s other signature honors and events include the Blues Hall of Fame, Keeping the Blues Alive Awards, and the International Blues Challenge. Its HART Fund provides the blues community with medical assistance and advocacy for blues musicians in need, while Generation Blues scholarships and Blues in the Schools programming expose new generations to blues music.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, The Blues Foundation has recently established the COVID-19 Blues Musician Emergency Relief Fund to provide financial support for basic necessities such as housing and utilities to blues musicians negatively impacted by the pandemic. The Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame, opened more than five years ago, adds the opportunity for music lovers of all ages to interact with the music and the history. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the worldwide blues community with answers, information, and news.