|David Berntson, Tulsa musician and educator was awarded the
2006 Keeping the Blues Alive (KBA) in Education Award by the
Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee on January 28, 2006.
Each year, the Blues Foundation recognizes individuals and
organizations that have made significant contributions to blues
music. Berntson was honored for his continued work in blues
education, both in Tulsa and throughout the country. A gifted
harmonica player, Berntson has shared his passion for the blues
with countless youth over the years.
In 1987, Berntson founded the Tulsa Blues Club, Tulsa's original
blues appreciation organization, and created his blues education
program. As a Prevention Educator and Drug/Alcohol Counselor,
Berntson found many opportunities to share his enthusiasm and
knowledge of the blues with young people. Using his contacts in
Tulsa area schools, he developed his unique "Blues in the
Schools" program. His ongoing partnerships with the Arts and
Humanities Council of Tulsa, the Blues Society of Tulsa, and
private funding has allowed him to reach thousands of students.
Blending blues music with character education, Berntson presents
his curriculum at alternative schools for at-risk youth, after-school
programs, and in traditional classroom settings. Participants
range in age from Kindergarten-12th grade. Most recently,
Berntson has been using the harmonica to reach teenagers who
are incarcerated at L.E. Rader Center, Oklahoma’s maximum
security juvenile detention facility.
Berntson has presented programs at the Arkansas Blues and
Heritage Festival (formerly the King Biscuit Blues Festival) in
Helena, Arkansas, the Bishopstock Blues Festival in Exeter,
England, the Nothin’ But the Blues Festival in Bloomington, Illinois
and at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, Iowa. In
April, 2005, Berntson was the Artist-in-Residence for the
Mississippi Valley Blues Society, funded, in part, by the Iowa Arts
Council and corporate contributions. He has also been the keynote
speaker for the Oklahoma Teen Conference and a presenter at the
National Prevention Symposium, always using the harmonica as a
means of connecting with the participants.
In 2010, Berntson toured the Middle East with the Little Joe
McLerran Quartet on The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad.
Organized by Jazz at Lincoln Center for the US Department of State,
the tour included performances, workshops, jam sessions and
|Crossroads Learning Experience
|Blues in the Schools
|Blues Education at Abdul Rahman Kanoo International School,