Jay Sieleman couldn't stop smiling.
Wait. This is the guy who heads the foundation devoted to blues music?
Well, it was understandable considering the $1.5 million in donations that have been hauled in to construct a $2.5 million Memphis Blues Museum on South Main.
"To actually build a hall of fame is a big step," said Sieleman, president of the Memphis Blues Foundation. "But, it came to the point where if we don't do this now, it might never be done."
The timing of the announcement on Friday couldn't have come at a busier time for the Memphis Blues Foundation coming off Thursday night's bravura performances at their annual Blues Awards ceremony. The always decked out event didn't disappoint as blues legends played and received awards in many cases for a lifetime of achievements in a music genre where it often takes that long to be recognized as a master.
"The Blues Foundation is the world's Blues Music Organization, the biggest and most important blues events of the year happens in Memphis each year," Sieleman said. "Around the world when people think of blues they think of Memphis."
It's keeping that prominent place at the top of the blues music food chain that prompted large donations for the creation of the hall of fame from Arts Memphis, First Tennessee Foundation, Thomas W. Briggs Foundation and the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau.
If Sieleman can keep up his hot hand at contributions it's projected the museum, located right across from the National Civil Rights Museum, could be completed in time for next year's blues awards presentation.
As far as a motif? well, think, Star Trek bluesy.
"The blues are colorful, they have a lot of life," said Scott Blake, Blues Museum designer. "They have a lot of asymmetry. A lot of grit. So, we're actually playing off between the two things. It's moving. It has a lot of vividness to it. A lot of interactive. So, you'll be able to search into every inductee into the hall of fame, from their names, their biographies, their concert footage."
Yeah, the blues is all over the world but, the ultimate shrine to it will be a totally "Memphis thang."