We have launched a campaign through the website Kickstarter to raise funds to record Holding the Torch for Liberty, our jazz musical about women’s suffrage. Please help us reach our goal by December 31. The way Kickstarter works, if we don’t reach our goal, we don’t get any of the money. Please help us today. You can donate online or via sending a check. Watch the video with WBGO Radio personality Rhonda Hamilton and spread the word. Thanks!
Seventh grader Tatiana performed in Holding the Torch for Liberty. Tatiana writes:
“I learned that in 1920 women had it tough. If it wasn’t for their boldness, power, optimism and courage, women wouldn’t have the rights they have now. This experience has changed me by allowing me to visualize through dance and music, [sic] it helps you find your inner voice and soul, it keeps you motivated on the weekends and it teaches you to be focused and to concentrate.”
I grew up in Highland Park, New Jersey near the famous Crossroads Theatre. One of the few theatres in the U.S. that focuses on African American theatre artists, I reveled in the joy of the music and the depth of the drama. Slow Dance on the Killing Ground to Bubblin’ Brown Sugar had me enthralled. Around this time, I also fell in love with jazz. I was mystified and motivated by the swinging sounds of Basie, Duke, Billie, Abbey, Benny and Monk. Luckily I found my way to make it my profession, first in radio at WBGO Jazz 88, then as a musician and later as an educator. For over 25 years I’ve been fortunate to be deeply involved in jazz around the clock. For much of this time I’ve done my best to share my love of this amazing music with people who might never have heard of it. For some reason, in the U.S., the place that created jazz, many young people never hear these amazing sounds. That’s why a schoolteacher named Clifford Carlson and I started The Jazz Drama Program (http://www.thejazzdramaprogram.org), a program that combines jazz and theatre to get young people immersed in the beauty, surprise and wonder of jazz.
With nine years in residence at a public school behind us, and a non-profit organization to support us, we got to make a professional recording of Nora’s Ark, the jazz musical just last year. The music is blues, bebop and swing. The story is right up the kid’s alley–accepting difference, working together, overcoming obstacles, singing the BLUES. Kids love it! And because of the CD, they are performing it in schools from Santa Fe to Tupelo. We even had one production in Montenegro in central Europe!
Now we are recording our second musical, Holding the Torch for Liberty. It’s about the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement with early jazz and New Orleans style music. Great professional musicians have already laid down the instrumental tracks and now we are rehearsing young singers at Celia Cruz High School for Music in the Bronx. I’m sure the final mix will be off the hook. We are recording on donated studio time at the top NYC studio, Avatar and Jim Anderson, Grammy award winning engineer is helping us out too. Here’s where you come in…
We have raised over half the money, and need to raise eight thousand more to fully fund the project. Will you please join us? Help kids get to know jazz. Help communities feel the magic of music and theatre with this new musical about a great American story. The story of women fighting and winning their right to vote!
Please join us and thank-you,
P.S. Watch the cool short video about the project featuring my longtime hero of the radio, Rhonda Hamilton from WBGO and share the link. Thanks!