‘All That Jazz’ for Washington Heights students
By Roger Clark
NEW YORK — Joie St. Hubert has been involved with the Jazz Power Initiative since he was a 12-year-old student in the program. Now, the singer and violinist from Roosevelt Island is an emerging artist-in-residence at Jazz Power.
“Being in Jazz Power really helped me realize that I do have my own voice, and I am able to put my own twist on music, and it doesn’t have to be labeled as wrong,” said St. Hubert, who had previously had a background in classical music and sung in a choir.
St. Hubert was one of the veteran and emerging jazz artists who performed in a Black History Month celebration at the Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, also known as Wheels. It was an opportunity to expose the students to music, history and the Jazz Power Initiative program, a not-for-profit co-founded by pianist and educator Eli Yamin.
Jazz Power works to transform lives through jazz music education and performing arts.
“I see the power of jazz to bring unity, I see the power of jazz to give people a creative outlet,” Yamin said.
Over the past two years, the organization engaged 1,200 students in 100 online workshops, but Jazz Power is excited to open its doors to new students in person for first time since the pandemic began.
Registration is open for young people ages 10 to 17 for a series of tuition-free open studio classes in voice, dance and theater arts. Among the instructors is jazz and blues vocalist Antoinette Montague.
“We’re here to lift these children, their teachers and our community up,” Montague said.
Students saw some great dancing at the show, too. Shireen Dickson’s OKRA Dance Company collaborates with Jazz Power.
“What we are playing is essentially classical music, intellectual music of the Americas, and what they listen to is the direct legacy of that, so there is definitely a sense of pride, but there is also a sense of not just Black history but Black future, because they are the young people who are going to carry this music forward and this dance forward,” Dickson said.
Students who attend the open studio classes are eligible for a full scholarship for a 12-week after-school training program starting in late March. To find out more, head to the organization’s website.