BRADENTON -- With square black sunglasses covering her eyes in the dark auditorium, EG Kight was ready, and wanted to make sure her audience of a couple hundred Manatee High School students were, too.
"Alright, y'all get into the blues mood now," she said as she began another song.
Kight and Dave Muskett stopped by Manatee High School on Friday morning for "Blues in the Schools" in advance of Saturday's Bradenton Blues Festival. It's the third year the program has been held at Manatee High, said Johnette Isham, the executive director of Realize Bradenton.
Kight, who has also been dubbed "The Georgia Songbird," and Muskett, a finger-style blues guitarist, are both performing in this year's festival. The two gave the students a prelude, along with some history of the blues genre and the music industry.
Blues began in the 1800s, around the time of slavery, Muskett told the students, and songs were passed orally. Songs in the early 1910s were the earliest blues songs on record. Blues saw a boom in the '60s, Muskett said, as baby boomers discovered the old records and sought out
"They brought a lot more attention to it," Muskett said.
Then it went more mainstream, Kight said. Fleetwood Mac started as a blues band.
"Then Elvis got a hold of it and it changed," she said. "Just about everything you hear today, even now, came from the blues."
In between performances, Kight and Muskett were peppered with questions from students, including when they started listening to blues, how long they had been performing, how many songs they had written and their best piece of advice for students who wanted to make it in the music industry.
"Just keep plugging along, you have to work at it every day," Kight said. "It's a full-time job, on and off the stage."
There are three rules, Muskett said: Don't panic, don't stop and keep going. He advised students to always be prepared.
"An opportunity that comes your way that you're not ready for is not an opportunity," he said.
Muskett and Kight stressed education for students, to keep honing their craft and to have something to fall back on.
"Anything you learn is going to make you a better player," Muskett said.
Having the artists perform and talk about the blues made 16-year-old Amelia Bennett realize the blues isn't just a "sad" genre of music. Bennett is a junior at Manatee High School and while she wants to one day work in the medical field, she sees music as a great passion. Bennett, who asked multiple questions during Friday's session, plays the violin.
"It opened my eyes to the genre of blues that I hadn't seen before," Bennett said.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.