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History of JazzArts Charlotte

In October of 2009, Lonnie and Ocie Davis established Jazz Arts Initiative (now JazzArts Charlotte) with the purpose of supporting “America’s classical music”, jazz, in the city of Charlotte.  The organization became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2010, with staff in place and an active five-member Board of Directors  integral to the organization’s initial success.

JazzArts Charlotte’s first program was the JazzArts Music Stage at Festival In the Park in Fall 2010.  This program was important in developing musician support, bringing local and regional musicians together for the first time to perform for the four-day free event.  Within six months, JazzArts Charlotte also launched its first educational program, the All-Star Jazz Youth Ensemble.  This program (renamed the Jazz Youth Ensembles + Workshops) began with five local students, and now serves over 40 middle and high school students in the Charlotte community.  In April of 2011, the JAZZ ROOM monthly concert series kicked off, and has been offering jazz monthly ever since, now reaching over 800 patrons each month.

Since its inception, the organization has been widely embraced by the Charlotte community, and is now one of the top emerging arts organizations in the region.  For more JazzArts Charlotte history, enjoy a timeline below and take a look at “A Love Supreme”, from Charlotte Magazine 2013.

Locally, JazzArts Charlotte has built relationships with arts organizations and educational entities across Charlotte, providing partnerships and support – Blumenthal Performing Arts, UNC Charlotte Department of Arts + Architecture, Charlotte Ballet, Charlotte Symphony, Arts & Science Council, Festival in the Park, Johnson C. Smith University, Mint Museum, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, and more.  JazzArts Charlotte is proud to be a member of several local, state-wide and national organizations.

Charlotte Regional Business Alliance
Americans for the Arts
NC Center for Nonprofits
Jazz Education Network
National Guild for Community Arts Education


July 1

Recognized as Southern Cultural Treasure by South Arts

May 1

Received Charlotte Center City Vision Award

April 18

Expanded Staff to Include Education Director

February 24

Expands to 1st Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble

January 1

Included in Charlotte Business Journal 2022 Book of Lists

February 12

Groundbreaking Carolina Performance of “We Insist!”

April 21

Launched 1st Livestream event in response to COVID

March 30

Jazz Arts Initiative Becomes JazzArts Charlotte

April 23

Expanded Staff to Include Development and Marketing Directors

May 20

Inaugural Lush Life Gala Event

October 22

JAZZ ROOM Monthly Series Expanded to Add Saturday Nights, Four Shows Each Month

July 4

Expanded Staff to Include Chief Financial Officer

October 5

Expanded Staff to Include First Full Time Administrative Staff Member

October 17

Expanded and Moved The JAZZ ROOM Series to Friday Nights, Two Shows Each Month

October 4

Charlotte Jazz Festival Partnership with Blumenthal Performing Arts

April 16

Kickoff and First Season of The JAZZ ROOM, Tuesday Nights One Show Per Month

June 19

First Ticketed Event at McGlohon Theater, Featuring Delfeayo Marsalis

January 29

First Educational Program, the All-Star Jazz Youth Ensemble, with Five Students

September 24

First Partnership Program, JazzArts Music Stage at Festival In the Park

July 14

Jazz Arts Inititive officially a 501©(3), with staff and Board of Directors

October 15

Jazz Arts Initiative Organization Established

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