Buffalo is #1 on National List of Top Arts Destinations. As I read the headline, I paused in disbelief. My city? Number 1? In something positive?
Sure enough, AmericanStyle magazine ranked Buffalo number one on its list of Top 25 Arts Destinations. The report by WGRZ cited: AmericanStyle readers referring to Buffalo as ‘a hidden jewel’ and ‘a well-kept secret’. We agree.
What makes our city a top art destination? Let us focus on just one element—artists who find their creative juices inspired and released here.
The proof is Artspace Buffalo Lofts, 60 housing units with shared studio space that is currently filled, with a waiting list 300 deep. Which brings us to the focus of our article—Bass Reeves, songwriter.
His current album is #2 in the world on MP3 download charts.
Bass is a product of Buffalo. Born here, raised here, educated here.
Bass always wanted to pursue music as his career. But life got in the way. He left Buffalo at age 17. Bass has been everything, from the balloon man at the zoo, to a Ford Foundation Doctoral Fellow. Soldier, network TV writer, poet, promoter, and businessman, but music never stopped calling his name.
Finally, 10 years ago, Bass decided to surrender to the call and reclaim his dream of music. He was on the path to making that happen, when his father called from Buffalo. Dad and mom, both in their eighties, were in failing health, and needed Bass back home to help. Bass, who spent most of his adult life running away from Buffalo, reluctantly said yes to his family at their time of need. Bass recognized that this would necessitate putting his music career on hold once again, maybe permanently. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Bass moved back home, where a friend in Lockport sent one of Bass’s CD’s to a disc jockey in Paris, France, who fell in love with the music. From Paris, this DJ gave Bass a worldwide platform. Bass came back to Buffalo, and from Buffalo he impacted the world. As Bass said, ‘I cherish the experience of coming back home. I have gotten to know my parents as adults. We have learned to laugh and cry together. I didn’t sacrifice anything. Buffalo is the place where my dream became greater than I ever thought it could be.’
Bass’s life experiences now allow him to write music that advocates for the downtrodden, addicted, hopeless and disabled. His latest album, If You Ignore the Truth was a leading MP3 download during 2007, achieving 3 number 1 songs and top 2 album chart positions. “…Every song is bewitching, stirring, and full of deep meaning.” (Paul Bondarovski – Midnight Special Blues Radio)
What an act of intentional kindness. Bass put his free spirit off to the side to serve his father and mother in their time of need, and in return is experiencing the greatest blessings of his life. Acts of intentional kindness bring a reward not only to the one who receives, but to the giver as well.
Still this is not just the story of a single artist. Bass reminded us that Buffalo has always been a great repository of creative talent. This is a great place to be, from a creative point of view. However, Bass also gave a warning—Buffalo must support our local talent or risk losing great up-and-coming artists to other cities such as Cleveland and Chicago.
How do we recruit these creative artists, support them, educate them, house them, employ them, promote them and retain them so that they can lift us and our community to new heights? Let the conversation begin.
These are the kinds of people and programs that we celebrate. These are the Acts of Intentional Kindness that we highlight. This is truly Buffalo Rising!