Blues to Green was founded in 2013 by Kristin Neville, wife of the late famous jazz musician Charles Neville. She understood the transformative power of music and wanted to use it to address Springfield, Massachusetts' economic disparities and status as a place to be avoided by non-residents, instead of a treasured, diverse cultural center.
A Pioneer Valley native and current resident, who lived in New Orleans for a period of time, Kristin was horrified to see both climate change and social injustice coalesce when thousands of people with low incomes were abandoned to the churning floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina... and she saw many of the same patterns in Springfield. Her response was to gather a dynamic mix of nonprofit and music professionals and community leaders to form Blues to Green.
The group launched the annual Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival in 2014. Now a signature city event, it continues to offer free world-class music access and draw visitors to enjoy the city, bring economic stimulus, and transform it into a thriving cultural hub. The festival also celebrates the music of communities of color, offers free music education, and boosts city artists, nonprofits, and merchants.
In 2019, with a planning grant from the Community Foundation of Western MA, Blues to Green created a second program, the Charles Neville Legacy Project. It brings festival musicians into Springfield public schools to integrate the music of communities of color into the curriculum, using it to bring history and literature to life.
All Blues to Green concerts, public discussions, and educational programs highlight how communities of color have shaped American music and the connections between this music and social justice.