Art of Aging: Local man combines passion for history, music to teach and inspire others

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A 67-year-old historian and musician has been able to blend his two passions into exciting presentations for people around the region.

Joe Becton is a historical musician who has been sharing his knowledge of history and love of music since he was in college with a program he created in 1979 called "The Evolution of the Blues."

"Where I talk about the colliding cultures in America, the Europeans, the Africans and Native Americans, how they come together, I call it a collision. And out of that collision comes certain special American products, products that don't happen anyplace else - gospel, spiritual, blues, jazz, rag," he said.

Becton, a veteran himself, most recently gave his presentation at the Delaware Valley Veterans Home.

"Because this program is all about the history of the United States and the history of the music," he said. "Every culture has their own special music and in America, we're able to mix a bunch of cultures together to come up with our American music."

"Because the blues is an interactive music, right? Everybody's supposed to sing, clap their hands, stomp their feet. I hope it makes people happy," he added.

Becton also works to bring history to life. He spent 21 years with the National Park Service and is now a tour guide.

"My most famous historic tour is the Underground Railroad walking tour for Philadelphia," he said.

And he performs with different acts around the region, like the Cobalt Blues Band.

"Well, the Cobalt Blues Band started way back in 1984. I joined it in 1986. I've turned into the front man, harmonica player and guitar player," he said.

Though he wears many hats, Becton says his message is always the same.

"Music, culture, community, right? With those kinds of things, you can grow healthy people," he said.
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