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The gifts that keep the music playing in Charlotte

December 2019 – JazzArts Charlotte has always had a lofty vision: to connect the Charlotte community and make jazz music accessible to all. We are proud that our dedicated supporters reflect that vision, and demonstrate one of the most diverse communities in Charlotte.

JazzArts Charlotte is grateful to our donors who provide support to JazzArts programs and help to keep the music playing. This month, we spoke with a few supporters and learned about their own love for live jazz and for their commitment to jazz education.

Donor David Goodstein spent weekends throughout his college years in the 50’s going to Harlem and NYC jazz clubs with fraternity brother Eddie. Later as a history teacher, it became clear to David how important the arts are to history, and how art, music, and history influence each other. “The best thing you can do is give to the next generation.” David describes a time when the experiences JazzArts Ensemble students receive shined.

The JazzArts Ensemble students went on a field trip to New Orleans a few years ago. “One evening, Ocie and Lonnie took them to the iconic club, Snug Harbor. I remember sitting at tables, jazz lovers all around. Because of the Davis’s friendships and reputation in New Orleans, Ocie was recognized and asked to sit in on a set. The answer was sure, but how about we let the kids play. And that is how our students got to play at Snug Harbor in New Orleans.” David describes the reaction of the audience as telling as the unique experience for the kids. They were shocked at the music coming from these middle and high school kids from Charlotte.

“What a gift,” exclaims donor Jim Drost. Jim and wife Chris lived in New Jersey and also went into NYC at least once a month to listen to jazz at the Jazz Standard and Smalls. In the fall of 2014 after moving to Charlotte, they were attending a pre-reception for a Jazz at Lincoln Center performance. In the elevator of the Mint Museum, a lovely woman named Lonnie Davis introduced herself.

Jim is motivated by seeing others be moved by the experience of jazz as much as he. “For me, it’s looking at the faces of the attendees at a jazz room show or watching the faces of the kids when they are getting a masterclass at the jazz academy. There are so many emotions and expression: amazement at the music, determination to go practice more, the connection and joy while playing.”

Donor Lorine Edwards describes JazzArts Charlotte as “enlightening.” They discovered JazzArts Charlotte while strolling through the Kings Drive Arts Walk, where students perform every May. She began buying the season’s JAZZ ROOM subscription for her husband Ray, who is a big jazz fan. Ray recognizes most songs as soon as they start.
We look forward to every month. “I’m learning about so many new artists.” Over time, a group of attendees have developed a friendship, as they see each other each month and chat about the current jazz experience and upcoming shows.

Donor Barbara Birge describes this same warm, friendly environment. “It makes life richer.” Barbara recently also began volunteering at the Webop preschool program. Week after week, she feels fulfilled, seeing the children mesmerized by the music and the instructor Dawn Anthony. At three years old, they are studying swing, blues, scat and more.
One particular little girl, Faith, had taken to the drums and rhythms. When they had the first “meet the band” session, Faith’s reaction watching the drummer was “magic”, says Barbara. The three-year-old girl went up after the lesson and hugged the drummer. It happens that the drummer was a woman. While it wouldn’t have dawned on her that was unusual, it did to Barbara. “I’m a great believer in role models.”

Most importantly, say Heide and Oscar Groomes, is watching the kids grow up. “We had Sean Mason play in our living room several years ago as a student. And here he is at Juilliard and playing in New York jazz clubs. It touches me to see the kids, and how they morph into these incredible musicians and exude such confidence. “
Oscar is a jazz critic who grew up with jazz his whole life, listening to his dad play in Paris. The Groomes ran into JazzArts Charlotte as they were walking down the street seven years ago. They heard music coming from a small venue off a side street, and Oscar was compelled to find out who was playing. It was Ocie Davis.

“JazzArts Charlotte has been a way to listen to wonderful live jazz with like-minded jazz enthusiasts, meet wonderful artists, and make an impact on an artform we enjoy so much.” -Heide Groomes

“What a gift! To the community. The city. The old people. The middle people. The young people. Jazz lives here baby.” -Jim Drost

“JazzArts Charlotte has provided an outreach for jazz in Charlotte. I get a sense that there are some populations that are still not able to take advantage, so I would love to continue to [help] widen that reach.” -Lorine Edwards

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