WHO ARE WE?
The Paramount Music Association was founded in 2006 as the Grafton Blues Association. In the beginning the founding members of the organization were part of the Grafton Area Jaycees. Information about the areas rich music history was brought to the attention of the Grafton Area Jaycees who, at the time, were involved in putting on their own events, and had little interest in the story that was brought to them…except for 3 individuals who could not believe what they were hearing. Two of the individuals were not originally from the area, and could not imagine that no one had ever brought this history to light. It seemed to have been buried, but they discovered it was only buried locally. After much research on their own, they decided to tackle the project of bringing a celebration to the area to honor the musicians that recorded in Grafton. Once word got out about the plans, the three started receiving emails and phone calls from around the world with the same message “It’s about time”.
After getting the ball rolling locally, it became clear that this would not be a local event, it would be international. The organization then formed as a 501c3 non-profit. Donations came in, artists lined up to be a part of the event, media coverage was great, the Village of Grafton at the time was rebuilding the down town plaza and plans changed to include a fountain and keyboard honoring those that recorded in Grafton for the Paramount label. The event caused quite a stir in the community, and that was good. During the inaugural Paramount Blues Festival, held Sept. 23, 2006, Henry Townsend (Oct.27, 1909 – Sept.24, 2006) the last living bluesman that recorded for Paramount, was honored and was scheduled to play at the event. He traveled to WI from St. Louis with his son Alonzo, and family friends. He was a wealth of knowledge, the things this 96 year old gentleman could remember was amazing, including the fact the history books have it wrong. The artists did not stay at the Grafton hotel, they stayed across the way at another building, being brought in at night and kept out of sight until it was time to make the few blocks walk to the Wisconsin Chair Factory to record. Mr. Townsend’s vivid recollection of his time in Wisconsin was amazing. During his stay in the area, he fell ill and was hospitalized. Mr. Townsend died at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2006 with his son Alonzo and friends by his side. The organization held a fundraiser for Mr. Townsend’s family to help with getting him back to St. Louis, and funeral expenses, and the community was very generous. We were able to cover all funeral expenses. Once the event was done and life had calmed down for everyone involved, we quickly realized there was a need not only for the event, but for helping others in the music world.
Since its inception in 2006, the organization has donated money, time, and live music to: music scholarships, music booster parents groups, senior living communities(Senior Blues), help musicians in need of medical care, breast cancer patients (Blues for the Cure),and we host an annual event that puts a local band on an international stage giving them an opportunity to be seen by industry leaders at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN. Currently our funding sources are the annual Paramount Music Festival, and public donations. Music can cure, inspire change, and lift up others who are in need.
Our extended goals are to have an historical space where we can tell the Paramount story, giving it the credit it deserves. The proceeds from this space will allow us to bring more culture to the area, help keep music in schools, assist those in need when called upon, and helping to heal through music. The Paramount Music Association is an all volunteer organization
Paramount; Its music is history