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Discovering more about the push for jazz in Charlotte

May 2019 —  A recent Friday night kicked off a holiday weekend. For many that might mean a night on the town. Maybe take in some live music.

There’s a push in Charlotte to make that a more regular thing for more people. The Music Everywhere Initiative is working to grow the local music scene.

WBTV interviews Sean Mason, an alumnus of JazzArts Academy, and poster example of the value that brings.  Below is an excerpt transcription of that discussion, with both JazzArts Charlotte CEO Lonnie Davis  and Sean Mason.  Click here to listen to the full interview.

“We’ve got some great events, like NBA All-Stars, but we’ve lost the CIAA tournament which is an impact to bottom line. When everyone is looking around for what we are going to replace those experience-based revenue generators for the city with, music becomes a compelling proposition.” said City Council member Tariq Bokhari.  “We’ve got people both in the scene and just citizens interested in music who are telling us in this study we want a stronger music scene.” noted City Council member Larkin Egleston.

Music everywhere recently did a survey and found 81% of city’s music venues are planning to book more music. 92% of local musicians plan to continue their music work here in charlotte. But to grow the scene there needs to be support. Not just to those already making music, but to those who aspire to become artists.

That leads us to Lonnie Davis and her husband Ocie. … Your [JazzArts Charotte]  trying to support and provide resources and opportunities for musicians locally. Is it that folks are already playing and you give them a place?  “Also identifying local musicians. There was no clear centralized space for them. First we needed to know who they were. Get to know them. Bring them together so they can know each other.”

The dual track to that is getting young musicians started.  “That has always been a core focus area of the organization’s mission.  I went through a very similar program and have always had great music educators. And they made a great difference in my life. I know the impact that music can have on a child’s life”  responded Lonnie.

… A few years ago, a quiet shy 8th grader was playing the piano. Not through lessons or by reading the music. He couldn’t. He taught himself by his own ear. His mom sensed something special was happening. She got her son, Sean Mason, into the Academy.   He’s now at the famed Juilliard school, being mentored by Wynton Marsalis, has a regular gig in New York City. …

[As a young student], you were in this classroom with these really talented musicians. Was that intimidating? “It was more inspiring to see people my age doing it. It got rid of the stigma that jazz was old people stuff.”

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