AARP Louisiana and the Chamber Music of America join Community Reflections, Inc. to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in acknowledgement of the holiday weekend named after him. On January 11-12, the non-profits will host a gospel and jazz musical at Dillard University’s Lawless Memorial Chapel beginning at 6 p.m. each night titled “It’s a Jazz Thing: Celebrating the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
The two-day celebration also observes the 20th year of Community Reflection’s Jazz Journey Project, which aims to provide a foundation for developing jazz and gospel artistry. “I was inspired to introduce the Jazz Journey in 1997 to focus on the rehabilitation of the eccentric jazz genre,” said Dan Williams, founder of Community Reflections Inc. “To celebrate 20 years of jazz, we are using this as an opportunity to pay homage to Dr. King through a joint effort to bring everyone in New Orleans together regardless of ethnicity, race and or sex through gospel and jazz melodies.”
The first day will showcase a variety of religions and denominations through musical praise and worship. The event will then transition to its second day, highlighting jazz music from local, statewide and national musicians. This year will feature appearances from jazz greats Theodore Lee Croker and Carmen Lundy, encompassing the wide array of talent that transcends over the two-day event. Lundy most recently released Code Noir, an album whose title will sound familiar to New Orleanians.
The musical genres featured aim to focus on Martin Luther King Jr.’s key values: fellowship, harmony and equality. New Orleans, which has longed been proclaimed as the birthplace of jazz, is no stranger to these attributes, nor are the artists headlining. The event echoes another illustrious, albeit dissimilar ceremony 53 years ago: Berlin’s first jazz festival. Dr. King was invited to write a foreword for the festival’s program. Putting the obvious turmoil that shrouded the world during that era aside, King eloquently reiterates the values coined by Community Reflections as ‘fundamentally King’.
“Jazz speaks for life. The blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope, ” wrote King. “This is triumphant music.”