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Rhode Island

Rhythm & Blues Preservation


about us


Cleveland Kurtz, President

Dr. Maxwell Whiting, Vice President / Music Director

Sylvia Whiting, Secretary / Treasurer


Tom Colantonio, Instruments for Children Scholarship Program 

Sandra Ginsberg 

Barbara Bardsley

Del Padgett


Sylvia Ann Soares

Lynn & Elizabeth Pegg

Richard & Donna Pena


Newsletter Editor, Sylvia Whiting

The Rhode Island Rhythm & Blues Preservation Society (RIRBPS) is a 501(c)3 all volunteer membership, non-profit organization established in 2003 by Prof Edward A. Coates and a few dedicated local supporters who were devoted to preserving and promoting the legacy, heritage and connection to rhythm and blues in Rhode Island.  Since it's founding  RIRBPS set up a multitude of programs and services.  By 2004 highlights of the Annual Calendar included an annual Blues Festival, monthly public education events at local area clubs followed by a jam session and other live entertainment venues, membership campaigns, and fundraisers.   

RIRBPS 'Rhythm & Blues News of Note' Newsletter first published in July 2004, and featured Board Updates, Membership Benefits, Planned Events, the Entertainer Exchange, Highlights of Local Performers, Volunteer Opportunities and the Last Chord.   By 2004 the R&B Preservation Hall Band was the organization House Band, created by Prof Coates, formerly of Prof Coates and the Dynamics.  At that time Prof Coates split his time between serving as President of RIRBPS and playing XB5 Hammond organ and shouting the blues.  Local musicians performed with the R&B Preservation Hall Band depending on availability.  

By early 2005 funds were raised to support R&B music preservation events, projects, public education forums and instruments for under-privileged children.  Over 50 members supported the organization.  The Board supporters and founding members included Prof Coates, Jean Coates, Richard and Donna Pena, Thomas Jose Santos, Elizabeth and Lynn Pegg, and Susan Boland.  


Since 2005 RIRBPS programming has expanded to include the Oral History Project, Instruments for Children Program, R&B Preservation Hall Band, International Blues Challenge, Rhythm & Blues Newsletter  and other member benefits and services.  We continue to move forward with our focus of the past ten years as we continue to support and promote our original mission. 



On 17th of August 2006 the Mayor of the City of Providence, David N. Cicilline declared by Proclamation that this date will be Rhode Island Rhythm & Blues Heritage Day.  Since that time the Rhode Island Rhythm & Blues Preservation Society has celebrated annually.



On the 20th of August 2007 the Governor of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations declared through Citation by "Proclaiming the Month of August in perpetuity to be "Rhythm & Blues Heritage Month" in the State of Rhode Island", signed by William J. Murphy, Speaker; Gordon D. Fox, Majority Leader and Robert A. Watson, Minority Leader.   During the month of August RIRBPS celebrates R&B Heritage Month with special events, celebrations and our Annual Rhythm & Blues Heritage Month Festival and Celebration.  We honor our supporters and members at this event.  



To preserve and promote Rhythm & Blues through activities, events, and education;

To preserve and promote the heritage, legacy and historical connections of Rhythm & Blues music in the evolution of American popular music; and

To improve public awareness and acceptance of Rhythm & Blues as a musical art form.