This week we celebrate the accomplishments and impact Ray Charles has made in the the world.
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Transforming lives through jazz arts education and performance
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In June 2005, JPI’s Board Secretary Tanya LeMelle joined TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank ®, and is the New York City Government Banking Relationship Manager. She is noted for her work providing quality service to Government and NFP customers, complex project management, corporate communications, and fostering strong interpersonal & professional relationships and community partnerships. Tanya has nearly 25 years’ experience in the financial services industry. Prior to joining TD Bank, she was a Marketing Manager for First Manhattan Consulting Group – a data-driven, omni-channel marketing company that services the financial sector.
Tanya is a strong advocate of the Corporate Social Responsibility business approach. In her role, she promotes community development, philanthropy, environmental conservation, inclusion and diversity practices, and volunteerism. She is the Co-Chair of the TD Bank Metro New York Regional Diversity Council, former founding co-lead of the Metro New York Black Employee Network Business Resource Group and is a TD Ready Commitment Ambassador. Her role with the AMCB BEN’s Customer Pillar is key in the execution of programming such as TD’s annual Black Business Month Celebration.
Tanya is the 2021 Recipient of the TD Bank CEO WOW! Leadership Award for Diversity and Inclusion Leader and the 2021 BEN BRG Region of the Year Recognition for her leadership on programs such as the MNY BEN BRG-led Dismantling Systemic Racism Series, MNY BEN BRG Early Talent Leadership Development Program and the Sip and Swing. She serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors for youth development organization, Jazz Power Initiative and as Board Member of the Astoria Film Festival. She is active with several local community non-profits and NYC DOE School Advisory Boards, volunteering many hours with NYC programs that meet the needs of the underserved, provide mentoring for youth at risk and promote environmental conservation.
Arlene Rodriguez Martinez is an American born, Dominican Republic raised, media and arts enthusiast. With an extensive background in TV and event production, her latest work journey included leading the international communication team for her home country’s tourism department, and assistant and event production for a variety of cultural encounters in the US and Dominican Republic. She has also dived into the volunteering field, providing a needed hand for institutions that work with children, the elderly, homeless and others. On her free time, she enjoys exploring the city, dancing, live music, tastings at new restaurants and nature activities. Arlene is the newest member of JPI, joining the team as Program Manager.
Jazz Power Initiative Production Coordinator, Jonathan Hernandez-Jimenez, has been with the Jazz Power Initiative for over nine years. He earned his B.A. from New York University (NYU) in 2020 where he majored in Music Business. Born in Brownsville, Brooklyn, Jonathan is currently a substitute music teacher at the high school he attended, Eagle Academy For Young Men. It was there in 10th grade that Jonathan first came into contact with the Jazz Power Initiative as a student. Currently Jonathan runs tech for Jazz Power Youth Education programs and live events. He also coordinates and performs with Zah! Jazz Power Ensemble, our pre-professional performing group and manages our social media accounts. In addition to his production skills, Jonathan is a singer and guitarist, plays in his own band and has been a great link between our youth and adults.
Bob Stewart has established himself as both an innovative tuba player and equally creative jazz educator over the last 40 years. In addition to embracing the tuba’s historical position as the original bass instrument in jazz, Mr. Stewart’s focus on reintroducing the Tuba into a contemporary band setting has encouraged many tuba players and band leaders to explore this approach. As a band leader, recording artist, and featured soloist Mr. Stewart’s playing has been featured on over 80 recordings. He has performed and recorded with such luminaries as Gil Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Charlie Haden, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Carla Bley, Wynton Marsalis, Jason Moran, Lester Bowie, Muhal Richard Abrams, Henry Threadgill, Arthur Blythe, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, David Murray, Chaka Khan, Dap Kings, Aretha Franklin to name a few. With decades of experience in public education Mr. Stewart now also works with Jazz at Lincoln Center as an educational consultant, advisor to the Rhythm Road project, and has helped to create the curriculum for the Middle School Jazz Academy. Another highlight from Mr. Stewart’s distinguished educational career includes winning the nationally-renowned Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition while directing The LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts & Music and Art Jazz Ensemble.
Shireen Dickson Shireen Dickson has worked in dance and arts education for over 20 years – as a performer, teaching artist, lecturer, curriculum developer, and NYC Dept of Education classroom teacher. Her performance experience spans from a teen National Tap Ensemble member to professional cheerleading for the NBA to Equity, Off-Broadway and ‘experimental’ and improvisational theater. She performed with and assisted award-winning choreographer Dianne McIntyre for 10 years, collaborating alongside legendary musicians such as Lester Bowie and Olu Dara, performing and teaching at such venues including the National Black Arts Festival, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, The American Dance Festival, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, among numerous other theaters and universities. Shireen was the founding Community Engagement Director for both Elizabeth Streb’s SLAM and Dance Parade NY, and currently consults on culturally- and community-responsible arts-based projects nationwide. Since 2010, Shireen has directed OKRA Dance Company, which presents African and American diasporic dance and world rhythmic forms in schools, libraries, museums and festivals throughout the US. Shireen is a founding executive board member of the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance based at Duke University and a full-time research associate at Northwestern University managing the SLIPPAGE lab, an interdisciplinary performance research group that explores connections between performance, history, theater, and emergent technology.
Tom Dempsey has performed and/or recorded with a virtual “Who’s Who” of world renowned jazz musicians including: Wynton Marsalis, George Coleman, Kenny Barron, Roy Haynes and Bobby McFerrin. Currently he is Professor of Music at LaGuardia Community College and on the faculty at Jazz at Lincoln Center. He has authored several books on jazz guitar and filmed hundreds of instructional videos inspiring students across the globe.
Alison Crockett, Soul and Jazz Diva, has been in the worldwide music scene as a vocalist and educator for decades, and has created “Generations of Vocal Jazz,” a program that educates and includes singers of all ages and generations in the joy of singing vocal jazz. Alison has been an award winning and prolific jazz, soul, and electronica vocalist and has been featured on dozens of recordings including King Britt in his Neo-soul creation, “When the Funk hits the Fan”, the acid jazz and hip hop mash up of Us3 “An Ordinary Day in and Unusual Place”, as well as two EPs and four full length records most notably the chart topping “On Becoming a Woman…” She has toured the world several times over, working and recording with multiple artists in various genres.
Alison has also spent the last two decades of her life promoting music and jazz vocal education with all ages. As a University Professor first at Temple University and then at George Washington University, she has trained jazz and pop vocalists privately and through the jazz choral ensemble, GW JiVE. Crockett is presently a visiting associate adjunct professor at Shenandoah University teaching Black American vocal styles for the masters vocal pedagogy program as well as a faculty member of The CCM Institute instructing professional singers and voice teachers about the history, singing and performing of Black American Music styles. Crockett has worked with school age children as the musical director of Highbridge Voices, writing, arranging and conducting over 250 children ages 5 – 16 from the Bronx, NY. She then served as the choral music instructor at the prestigious Fillmore Arts Center in Washington, DC for over 10 years. In her last year of teaching at Fillmore, she started to center totally on jazz choral education, exposing students to the joy of swinging and scatting and understanding the history and culture of Jazz music. This was the genus of “Generations of Vocal Jazz,” the performance festival, held annually at George Washington University.
Jason Clotter is a bassist from Puerto Cortes, Honduras. He immigrated to New York City as a teenager, attended Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music and recently graduated from the State University of New York (SUNY) Purchase. Jason has been playing regularly with a wide range of jazz artists, including Samara Joy, Stacy Dillard, Joe Farnsworth, Vincent Gardner, Marquis Hill, Wallace Roney, Eric Lewis, Steve Davis, Michael Mwenso, Anthony Wonsey and many more. He has performed at venues around the world including Jazz at Lincoln Center, Smalls Jazz Club, Smoke Jazz Club, Grand Ole Opry and Reduta Jazz Club (Czech Republic). It is Jason’s mission to create beautiful music and keep the music alive and going strong.
Joie St. Hubert (he/they) is a non-binary/trans NYC-based classical and jazz vocalist, violinist, and teaching artist. As a member of the Black and trans community, Joie aims to integrate music, activism, and writing as a way to inspire, encourage, and hold space for others. Joie has performed both locally at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), The DiMenna Center, and the United Palace, as well as internationally in Japan, Finland, Spain, Germany, and France. He started studying music at The School for Strings, and then at the pre-college program at The New School’s Mannes Prep before continuing his studies at university. Since he was 12, Joie has been a part of Jazz Power Initiative, led by Eli Yamin, and is currently Jazz Power’s first 2022 Emerging Artist-In-Residence.
Annette A. Aguilar, multi-percussionist, recording artist, producer and bandleader, was born in San Francisco into a family from Nicaragua and currently resides in New York City. She began playing music at the age of 11 and by the time she turned 16, she was sitting in and performing with renowned Latin artists Santana, Cal Tjader and Sheila E.
She leads her Latin Brazilian Jazz group Annette A. Aguilar & StringBeans since 1992 and has released three albums to wide acclaim. The band toured three times as Latin Jazz Ambassadors for the U.S. Department of State performing and teaching in South Africa, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar including, a performance for the President.
Aguilar has also toured and shared the stage with many top New York City Pop, Jazz and Latin groups including Darlene Love, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Tito Puente, The Grateful Dead, Mose Allison, Toshi Reagon, Bernice Johnson Reagon and currently with Arturo O’Farrill BronX BandA.
She has worked on award winning Broadway shows including Paul Simon’s “The Capeman”, Smokey Joe’s Cafe and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights.” Aguilar earned a Bachelors in music performance from San Francisco State University, and Masters in Performance from Manhattan School of Music, and in Music Education at Lehman College, City College of New York. Ms. Aguilar has always been involved in nurturing the next generation of musicians and ran a music program for youth in the South Bronx for twenty years in addition to serving on the faculties of The Jazz Power Initiative, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Celia Cruz High School of Music and Lehman College. In 2015, Aguilar was honored by being included in a large mural honoring Latin Jazz musicians from San Francisco and veteran broadcaster Chata Gutierrez. The mural is located in the historic Mission District on 24th Street and South Van Ness.
Dancer/Choreographer Mickey Davidson won an Audelco award for choreography of the 20th anniversary of “For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf” directed by Ntozake Shange. She joined Dianne McIntyre’s groundbreaking “Sounds In Motion” in 1975 and danced with the company for eight years. She has worked closely with jazz artists Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, the World Saxophone Quartet and was mentored by original Savoy Ballroom dancers Frankie Manning and Norma Miller. A beloved New York veteran of arts education, Ms. Davidson has an extensive background in African American dance styles, and held a joint appointment with the Dance Department and African-American Studies at Wesleyan University for 17 years. In addition to teaching with Jazz Power Initiative, she teaches at the Louis Armstrong Jazz Camp in New Orleans and is a passionate advocate for making cultural jazz dance traditions available to the next generation.
Brian Fender is a multi talented performer, actor, musician and teaching artist. Brian serves as JPI’s Youth Program Coordinator, taught at Jazz Power Initiative’s first residency at Administration for Children’s Services, and has attended multiple Jazz Power Initiative Training Institutes. He joined Jazz Power Initiative after learning jazz foundations and history from Eli Yamin at Marymount Manhattan College. Brian appeared in Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman and Netflix’ “The Get Down.” His theatre performances include “The Rebirth of the Rabbit’s Foot” which he performs in New York and recently, Amsterdam. Brian also writes and records his own music and is a fine example of how arts education can transform a young person’s life. He is devoted to mentoring, guiding and providing individuals with jazz and performance tools that will allow one to express themselves more freely and live a happier life.
Angie Pastor is an NYC-based jazz vocalist, composer, guitarist, and aspiring teacher. Her intention when writing and performing is always to speak from the heart and create something meaningful that others can relate to. She was brought up in Jazz Power Initiative’s(JPI) “Zah!” program where she gained skill and knowledge of jazz, storytelling, and what it means to be a professional. She is currently a senior studying vocal jazz at the City College of New York and she performs at various venues around New York City. She is currently working as an intern with JPI as Assistant Teaching Artist, and helps with teaching vocals and administration work.
Message From Saturn, performed at Jazz Art Montenegro (JAM) in Podgorica, Montenegro with jazz quintet, string quartet, and 30 singers/dancers/actors for an audience of 500.
Message From Saturn – Jazz Club Edition, the original jazz musical by Eli Yamin and Clifford Carlson, performed at Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center performed by jazz sextet featuring Knoel Scott, saxophone, Camille Thurman, saxophone and voice and James Zollar, trumpet, Russell Hall, bass, Stefan Schatz, drums, Eli Yamin, piano and conductor, Okra Dance Ensemble with Shireen Dickson, and Zah! Jazz Power Youth for an audience of 400.
Jazz Power Initiative Director of Business Affairs Janny Gonzalez was born in Venezuela and studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Los Andes, located in the city of Merida, Venezuela receiving her B.S. in Chemical Engineering degree in 2012. After launching a successful career in Process Design Engineering in Venezolana de Proyectos Integrados, C.A. (VEPICA) in Caracas, Venezuela, she migrated to the United States in 2016 due to political factors. Janny began working in the non-profit sector in 2017 at Jazz Power Initiative (JPI) in Inwood, Manhattan as a marketing, bookkeeping and operations consultant. After proving her capabilities, Janny was promoted to Director of Business Affairs in fall of 2020. Janny’s responsibilities include managing the budget, technology, and fundraising activities of JPI as well as serving as a staff liaison to the Board of Directors. Janny is a singer, plays piano, is happily married and the proud mom of one child.
Victoria Ortiz is a classically trained vocalist, instructor and entertainer who lives in New York City. She has sung all over New York in concerts on the lower east side, Musical Cabaret reviews, Opera Productions, Park concerts and even singing the national anthem for the New York Mets. Victoria has attended multiple Jazz Power Initiative Training Institutes and is a Level One Certified Teacher of Somatic Voicework, the LoVetri Method(™). Victoria has also taught Music in New York City public schools, and has worked with children from ages 5-18 for seven years at various New York City programs. Victoria has taught vocals and technique along with choreography and costuming. She has also appeared on various talk shows and has worked on film sets, commercials and music videos. Over the years Victoria’s children’s choirs have performed at hotels, festivals (Tribeca film) and jazz concerts. More recently Victoria has directed the choir at Roslayn Yalow charter school in their community debut as the opener for the Bronx Opera Company. Rosalyn Charter has also performed at public park venues as well as performing for Latino leaders in the community. Victoria is also a part of the Bronx arts Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Mary Ann McSweeny as a featured vocalist. Victoria is now thrilled to be on the faculty of Jazz Power Initiative under the direction of Eli Yamin working with youth on voice and piano in Northern Manhattan.
TIME magazine called singer/composer and musician, Dana Hanchard a “singer of passionate virtuosity”. The Dana Hanchard Group has played in Japan since 2004,performing her originals and completing 2 full length CDs of her songs. Fool Tale Spinning and latest release, Kokoro (recorded together with Ensemble Ningen -a young apprentice group specializing in Ms. Hanchard’s music). As a soloist, Dana has recorded Bach, Monteverdi, Handel and Meredith Monk for Deutsche Grammaphon, Harmonia Mundi and ECM. She appears on the groundbreaking recording of South American Baroque music Nueva España, with Joel Cohen and the Boston Camerata for the Erato label.
She has performed leading roles at the Royal Danish Opera, The Edinburgh Festival of Scotland, The Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Théatre de Champs Elysées. Ms.Hanchard has also appeared as soloist with: the Mingus Big Band, the Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra; with bassist, Rufus Reid and his quintet plus four, The American String Quartet, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra with conductor, Nicholas McGegan and recently, has been enjoying working on the vocal music of saxophonist, Billy Harper with his small vocal unit.
Ms. Hanchard performs with and writes music for NYC based band-collective, Karavan Kosmiko, and for the Tokyo based lightwork ensemble, Reyk◊do. Ms. Hanchard leads the Northstar Shorakapok Choir in regular workshops on intentional singing in Manhattan, and works as voice coach and composer to the Harlem Jirani Ensemble, a children’s music and leadership training program begun in 2011. Also In 2011, she started the Manhattan Peace Project, producing events that foster peaceful,creative solutions as an antidote to the reckless destruction brought about in this atomic age.
Dana is a visiting professor of voice and yoga at Senzoku Gakuen Jazz College in Kawasaki.
Ronald Eldridge “Ron” Claiborne is an American journalist and correspondent for ABC News, he is the current “more news reporter” for the weekend edition of Good Morning America, anchored by Dan Harris. He joined ABC News in 1986.
Claiborne has previously worked in the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Boston bureaus of ABC News. He has also covered international stories in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, China, South America, Africa and Europe.
In 2007 and 2008, Claiborne covered the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain. He has also covered such stories as the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal in 2002 and 2003, the Elian Gonzalez custody case in Miami in 1999 to 2000, the Yugoslavia conflict in Belgrade in 1999, the 2000 Bush presidential campaign, the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign and the 1991 Persian Gulf War. During the 2003 Iraq War, he reported from the Persian Gulf region and was “embedded” on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.
Claiborne was part of the ABC News team that won a 2000 Emmy Award for coverage of the seizure of Elian Gonzalez in Miami. In 2003, he was an Ochberg Fellow with the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, affiliated with the University of Washington.
Prior to joining ABC News, he was a general assignment correspondent for WNYW-TV, New York from 1982 to 1986. He was a reporter for the New York Daily News from 1980 to 1982 and a reporter and national editor for United Press International in New York, from 1977 until 1980.
Claiborne earned an MS in journalism in 1975 from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He received a BA in psychology from Yale University in 1974. He is a native of San Francisco, Calif., and grew up in Oakland, Calif., and Los Angeles.
Claiborne is a former Jazz Power Initiative Board President.
Mick Carlon’s Jazz novels—RIDING ON DUKE’S TRAIN; TRAVELS WITH LOUIS and GIRL SINGER (Leapfrog Press)—are now in the curriculum of 100+ schools in the USA, Mexico, France and Spain. A 37 year veteran public school teacher from Cape Cod, his books are introducing a new generation to the glories and stories of our music.
Joe Fortunato is a Project Management Professional with a unique combination of work experience in Professional Music, and Corporate Industry.
He graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1989 as B.S. in Music Production and Engineering. He then started handling client contracts, client relations and Business consulting with with experience in film scoring, jingle writing/production for several companies, including World Alert Productions and Nile Rodgers Productions.
In 1995, he began his career in End-to-End Drug Development project management for Oncology drug therapies for 3 major pharma companies, becoming a Pharmaceutical Research & Development (R&D) Project Manager for Janssen Pharmaceuticals Company of Johnson & Johnson, where he is currently employed.
His involvement with Jazz Power Initiative was driven by his passion for access to music education for youth in all communities regardless of financial ability.
Joe brings a diverse set of skills in Business, Information Technology, Project Management, Negotiations, and Emotional Intelligence, as well as relationships with key players in the Professional Music, Digital Marketing, and Pharmaceuticals Industries.
Joe is a loving husband and father of three, and an avid supporter of Music and Arts.
Steven Oquendo, a New York City native, is a trumpeter, Latin jazz big band leader, composer, arranger, and educator. He holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Music and Music Teaching and a B.S. in Music from Lehman College and is currently the Associate Conductor of the first New York All-City Latin Jazz Ensemble as well as Music Director at Pelham Preparatory Academy in the Bronx. Mentored by trumpet stars Jon Faddis and Wynton Marsalis, Oquendo has toured Africa, Europe, South America, and the Caribbean and recorded and/or performed with a wide range of artists including: Celia Cruz, Ruben Blades, Eddie Palmieri, Juan Luis Guerra, Arturo Sandoval, The Machito Orchestra, The Tito Rodriguez Orchestra, Milly Quezada, La India, and Ray Santos. Since 2009, Oquendo has led The Steven Oquendo Latin Jazz Orchestra (SOLJO), a 19-piece big band captivating audiences with its unique combination of modern jazz and palladium era Afro Cuban, Latin Jazz, salsa, and mambo classics. SOLJO has been featured at a variety of venues, including Pregones Theater, Lehman College, Hostos Community College, the Spanish Harlem 111th street “Old Timers” festival, and the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz.
Charenee Wade is an international and national performer. She is well studied in jazz and classical music. She has performed at the Jazz Gallery, Zinc Bar, Lincoln Center’s Dizzy Coca-Cola’s, Smalls in New York City. Her debut album was Love Walked In which was released in 2010.
Wade has been a featured singer in many trios, big bands, etc., to a 100-piece Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra.
She has studied with Carmen Lundy, Peter Eldridge, Bob Stewart, Miles Griffith, Lenora Zenzailai Helm, Luciana Souza, Cecil Bridgewater, Pamela Baskin-Watson.
Wade has performed at Festival du Riou, the Montreaux Jazz Festival, and the Ascona New Orleans Jazz Festival. She opened for Herbie Hancock at the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival in 2003.
She was on tour with the Oleg Butman Trio performing at various venues in Moscow, and the Province Jazz Festival in Orenburg.
In 2004, she performed with Rufus Reid the bassist-composer.
Her second album is a tribute to the work of Gil Scott-Heron, and is titled the “Offering: The Music of Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson”. It was released on the Motéma Music label. The album features Christian McBride, Lakecia Benjamin, Dave Stryker, Stefon Harris, Marcus Miller, Malcolm-Jamal Warner.
She has been a guest vocalist on album releases by Tia Fuller, Eric Reed, and the Eyal Vilner Big Band.
Patricia is an employment and human rights attorney, successfully representing survivors of sexual assault, harassment and discrimination, and offers many years of dedication and commitment to addressing the issue of sexual violence. She also represents individuals fleeing gang violence, political and religious persecution in their countries of origin to seek asylum in the U.S., and seeks to protect individuals against government abuse. She is a zealous advocate for her clients. Prior to her admission to the Bar, Patricia developed critical skills through her work in law enforcement conducting preliminary investigations of sex crimes and child abuse complaints.
On the business end, Patricia develops top-notch compliance and training programs for companies seeking to bring their operation to the next level. She trains management teams on professional, non-discriminatory workplace conduct and leadership skills. She is a proven leader in building relationships, developing teams, and identifying unique approaches to resolving business disputes.
A talented tap dancer, choreographer, and teacher, Dexter Jones has appeared in countless stage productions including the critically acclaimed West Coast premiere of Swinging on A Star at the International City Theatre in Long Beach, Ca. and was nominated for an NAACP Theatre Award for his performance. On Broadway and in national and international tours he has been seen as Richie in A Chorus Line, Andy Lee in 42nd Street, a New Rhythm Boy in My One and Only, Riverdance, Play On!, and performing Cholly Atkins classic soft shoe “Memories of You” in the multi-Tony award winning hit Black and Blue. His television credits include “Loving”, “One Life to Live”, “All My Children”, “The Little Richard Story”, “Bojangles” (starring Gregory Hines), “The Old Settler” (starring Phylicia Rashad and Debbie Allen) and PBS Great Performances of Black and Blue and Play On! He also performed his rst lead lm role in Urban Spoon.
Debra Spencer, a museum-trained curator and art historian, also specializes in cultural policy.
Spencer holds a Master’s from Harvard University Graduate School of Education, with adjunct studies in Film at M.I.T. She also studied Painting, Museum of Fine Arts School Boston, and Art
History, Western Michigan University and Harvard University. An independent curator, Spencer’s current clients are the William J. Clinton Foundation Headquarters, Gallery MC and Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba, NYC. Former clients include The Romanian Cultural Institute, Bucharest, Romania, President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, Washington, DC and the Harlem Arts Alliance. Recent contributions to arts policy include the Schomburg Center/NYPL and NY State Council on the Arts.
Spencer’s training in museology was at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Art, Boston, the latter of which influenced her curatorial style of focusing on interdisciplinary and multi-media exhibitions. Recently, she organized an exhibition series showcasing over 60 NYC-based artists that represented 18 countries and 4 continents.
Spencer speaks and writes on issues of contemporary art. Recent presentations include: Women in Business and Gender Equality in the Arts, UNESCO Paris; Independent Curatorial Practices, Arts and China Federation of Literary and Arts Circles of Beijing; and The Emergence of a Figurative in African American Art.
Congress retained her services to design and manage the nationwide competition for the Congressional Memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., permanently installed in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. Spencer was awarded two NEA Fellowships in Arts Management, was a founding member of the African American Museums Association, and is a member of the American Alliance of Museums and International Council on Museums.
Wendy Rothman, business entrepreneur and organizational psychologist, is a renowned and sought after professional with a focus on developing human capital. With a background that combines successful entrepreneurship with advanced training in psychology, she brings unique breadth and perspective to the work of performance management. Combining measurement rigor with real world business success, Wendy is a practical and inspiring advisor to executives at all levels. Her academic training combines a PhD in Psychometrics (the scientific discipline of testing and measuring human characteristics) with a Masters in Organizational Behavior. While completing her post graduate studies, she went on to build and grow 4 businesses in the discipline of managing and developing Human Capital – the largest of which grew to over $110 million in revenues. This experience grounded her academic training with real world understanding of the issues and choices facing executives in general and executive women in particular. Since 2001 she has been the President of Wenroth Consulting, Psychology at Work – a consortium of business psychologists specializing in leadership development, executive assessment & performance coaching as well as career transition counseling. Today, Wendy is an elected member of The Committee of 200, an organization for preeminent women Presidents and CEOs. She is a published author, speaker, broadcaster, and recognized expert in maximizing human behavior at work.
2009 Grammy Award Winning Producer & Voting Member of The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. Producer of ”Real Jazz” heard weekly on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
Jeff is currently under contract with Jazz at Lincoln Center, producing, recording / mixing albums & special projects under the direction of Wynton Marsalis. Additionally Jeff produces and records through his company World Alert Music in Manhattan.
Raised in a musical household, Jeff’s classical training was overseen by his mother, an Opera Singer. In his early studio days Jeff learned firsthand, working with legends: Don Elliot, John Hammond, Russel Simmons, Rick Rubin, Arthur Baker, Hank Shocklee, Jam Master J, Teruro Nakamura, and Puff Daddy. Jeff’s scope is wide, and encompasses the realms of Jazz, Classical & Rock.
Jeff’s passion as an inventor and developer, has earned him the reputation and nickname “The JediMaster” of recording techniques. His Guerilla recording of Wynton Marsalis won him a 2006 Grammy Nomination. EMI President Bruce Lundvall credited Jeff’s mixes of Willie Nelson as “The best sounding live album, I’ve ever heard”. Dr John considers Jeff “The next Tommy Dowd”.
Becca Pulliam produced 23 seasons of the weekly series JazzSet from NPR Music, hosted by Dee Dee Bridgewater and Branford Marsalis. One edition featured a story with actualities from the Jazz Drama Program’s first production,When Malindy Swings, at Louis Armstrong Middle School in Queens. In addition, Pulliam produced 28 consecutive live, all-night, coast-to-coast Toast of the Nation specials, live on New Year’s Eve from NPR and WBGO Jazz 88 in Newark, NJ. In 2014-15, she has written the Berlin Philharmonic in Concert series for WQXR in New York, and the Spring Gala for the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. As Please Repeat the Question Productions, Pulliam makes the podcasts from the annual conference of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education, Hunter College.
Louise Robinson, is one of the founding members of the Grammy Award-winning a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock. She is a native New Yorker, studied concert bass for six years and attended the High School of Music and Art. A graduate of Howard University with a BFA, her professional career began at Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage. Louise accepted Robert Hooks’ invitation to become a member of the new, D.C. Black Repertory Company Acting Ensemble. It was out of this theatre company that Louise, along with Carol Maillard. Bernice Johnson Reagon, and Mie, formed the a cappella quartet, Sweet Honey In The Rock. Louise’s colorful career has taken her up many paths, including performances, both on and off-Broadway, and in film and studio recording. She has also worn the producer’s hat as she, along with Maillard and Smokey Ronald Stevens, produced A Sho Nuff Variety Revue, a series of performances showcasing some of New York’s finest talent, including Adolph Casear, Sandra Reeves Phillips, and legendary tap dancers Gregory Hines, Avon Long, and Joe Attles.
Carol Maillard is one of the founding members of the Grammy Award-winning a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock. She was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although she originally attended Catholic University of America on scholarship as a Violin Performance major, she soon began writing music and performing with the drama department and eventually changed her major to Theater. Carol became an accomplished actress and has performed in film, television, cabaret and on stage. Her theater credits encompass a wide range of styles from musical comedy and revues to drama and experimental. She has worked on Broadway in DONT GET GOD STARTED , ITS SO NICE TO BE CIVILIZED, COMIN UPTOWN , HOME and EUBIE; off-Broadway with the Negro Ensemble Company, the New York Shakespeare Festival and at the Actors Studio and many regional theatre productions. Recently she Reprised her role as Woman Two for a staged reading of Samm Art Williams Tony nominated play HOME for Project 1Voice. Carol served as Conceptual and Creative producer for the 2005 documentary film SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK: RAISE YOUR VOICE ! on the PBS series American Masters. Produced and directed by Stanley Nelson, the film chronicled SWEET HONEY’s 30th Anniversary year. She also produced the accompanying soundtrack for the film.
Detroit native Endea Owens, is a vibrant up and coming bassist. She has toured and performed with Jazzmeia Horn, Steve Turre, Jennifer Holliday, Camille Thurman, and Lea DeLaria from the Netflix original series “Orange is The New Black”. Endea has done music exchange programs in Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago. She has performed at jazz festivals in Switzerland, Paraguay, The Cayman Islands, South Korea, Detroit, and San Francisco.
Recently, Endea has been featured on ABC7 News (New York) with Sandy Kenyon, as well as ABC7 “Here and Now”. This episode was played in 6,500 taxis in the New York area. This year Endea was featured in The Wall Street Journal as well as Billboard Magazine. Currently, she is completing her Master’s degree at The Juilliard School.
Motema Music recording artist, Rondi Charleston, is an award winning jazz singer, lyricist and composer whose work has appeared in film, TV and on stage through the U.S. and in Europe. She recently collaborated with pianist Fred Hersch on music for the award winning film, “No Place on Earth,” which had worldwide theatrical release and was shown on the History Channel.
Her fifth solo album, Signs of Life charted on JazzWeek, and JazzTimes says, “She is a songwriter whose poetic, narrative and compositional skills are comparable to such modern masters as Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon.” She has performed to sold out crowds at Yoshi’s, Catalina’s, Dakota, Birdland, Blue Note, Joe’s Pub and at Jazz at Lincoln Center as part of the the Women in Jazz Festival Jazz at Dizzy’s. Rondi is also an Emmy and Peabody award-winning journalist, having worked with Diane Sawyer at ABC News PrimeTime Live.
Philadelphia-born musician, David F. Gibson, toured extensively and recorded with the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of Frank Foster. David has also performed with a host of artists and ensembles, including Joe Williams, Clark Terry, the Sun Ra Arkestra, the Odean Pope Saxophone Choir, the Diane Schuur Trio, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and the Woody Herman Orchestra. Music critic, Chip Deffa (the New York Post) says that “Gibson’s drumming is strong and fluid and as satisfying as any drummer I heard in years.” Music critic, Jerry Carrier (the Philadelphia Daily News) says, ”Gibson may be the ultimate band drummer.” He is also featured on recordings that include Diane Schuur’s Music is My Life and Harry Sweets Edison’s Live at the Iridium. He is an adjunct faculty member at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Temple University.
Max Pollak has received Flo-Bert and Hoofer Awards, a Bessie Award Nomination, Individual Artist Grant (N-Manhattan Arts Alliance), NYFA Fellowship in Choreography. A member of Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, Cuba’s famous Rumba ambassadors, he is a prestigious name on the international tap and world music scene. Critics and peers worldwide acknowledge his superior musicianship and his highly individual style called “RumbaTap” – a pioneering blend of Afro-Cuban song and dance with American tap and body music. His innovative a cappella vocal arrangements received critical praise in the NY Times. Originator of Cuba’s first tap festival, he has been teaching and performing there since 1998. Among others he worked with Cuba’s top Rumba groups, Chucho Valdés, Lila Downs, Ray Brown, Phil Woods, Paquito D’Rivera, Danilo Perez, shared the stage with Ann Miller, Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury, Gregory Hines, James Earl Jones, Carl Reiner and Chita Rivera. He is recognized for making classical music more accessible, playing in prestigious venues and festivals in Austria, Germany, France, Canada, the US and Cuba. He has performed as soloist with members of the Vienna, Berlin and New York Philharmonic, London and Montreal Symphony, St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra, Les Violons Du Roy, Orchestre Nouvelle Generation, Composer’s Concerdance and more. For such occasions, many internationally acclaimed composers have written orchestral works with tap/percussion parts expressly for Pollak. He is also a recording artist, published writer and on faculty at Sarah Lawrence College in New York.
Jeannette LoVetri, known to her friends as “Jeanie”, is one of the most recognized singing teachers in the world and has taught world wide as an expert in Contemporary Commercial Music. That term, CCM, was created by Ms. LoVetri in 2000 to replace the term “non-classical” and is now in accepted use in academia, research, medical and clinical journals.
Ms. LoVetri is a trained classical soprano who sang at Marble Collegiate Church and Riverside Church in New York, Off-Broadway at the former “Village Gate”, at Lincoln Center under Chapman Roberts of Broadway renown, and at the Henry Street Settlement Theater. She has performed recitals, concerts and solos in classical repertoire and is a frequent guest with the New York City Community Chorus, but continues to also do jazz songs and music theater pieces.
Her students are Grammy winners, Tony-nominated Broadway leads, and jazz stars, and have appeared in the world’s great venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Albert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and on TV, in jazz venues, and in international theaters and concert halls. She worked as Singing Specialist for 20 years with the Grammy-winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus and has worked with children, both professional and not, from the beginning of her teaching career in 1971. Ms. LoVetri is the recipient of the Van Lawrence Fellowship, a lifetime achievement award from the NY Singing Teachers’ Association and a citation from the Centro Estudos da Voz in Sao Paulo, where she was a guest lecturer. She is on the Advisory Board of the Voice Foundation in Philadelphia, and has taught in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Berlin, London, Florence, Sydney, Perth, Toowoomba (Australia), Sao Paulo, Santiago, and Bogota. She is currently working with a principal in the Broadway show, Anastasia.
Jeanie LoVetri is a long time supporter and mentor of the Jazz Power Initiative. She currently serves on the Advisory Board and previously served on the Board of Directors.
James Zollar began his musical career at age 9 playing bugle in his hometown, Kansas City, Missouri. At 12, he graduated to the trumpet and began to discover his musical voice and focus. In 1984 he moved to New York City and became one of the most expressive and prolific trumpeters in jazz. He has played and recorded The Duke Ellington Orchestra, Count Basie Orchestra, Don Byron, Marty Ehrlich, Eddie Palmieri, Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra with Jon Faddis, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. Zollar was featured in Robert Altman’s motion picture “Kansas City”, in Madonna’s music video, “My Baby’s Got a Secret, “ as well as Malcolm Lee’s film “The Best Man.” James Zollar’s Cd’s under his own name include “Zollar Systems” in 2010 and “It’s All Good People” in 2013. James has been a teaching artist with Jazz at Lincoln Center for many years and recently joined the team at Jazz Power Initiative.
Bassist and cellist, Jennifer Vincent has been an active force on the jazz and Latin scenes in NYC for the past two decades. She plays, tours, and records with the likes of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Betty carter, Abbey Lincoln, KD Lang, Fantasia, Vanessa Williams, Patti Labelle and the collective, Cocomama.
She had the good fortune to study at the New School with jazz and Latin jazz legends Ron Carter, Vuster Williams, and Andy Gonzales. In 2001, she traveled to Cuba to study with Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez, bassist of the beloved Buena Vista Social Club.
Jennifer is the bassist of Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz At Lincoln center All-Stars that was featured in the hit musical revue “After Midnight” on Broadway. She teaches bass at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Middle School Jazz Academy.
Robert Silverman was born in New Haven, Connecticut. and has been playing jazz piano, trumpet, singing and composing for about 47 years. Mr. Silverman was first mentored by the great Jackie McLean in Hartford, and then moved on to study at the New England Conservatory in Boston where he was fortunate to work with George Russell, Jaki Byard, Fred Hersch, Jimmy Guiffre, Ran Blake and many others and graduated from the Jazz Studies Department in 1984. He moved to New York where he did graduate work with Jimmy Heath at Queens College and has been the recipient of many awards including two Meet the Composer Grants and a Brio award in 2013 for Best Jazz Composer for his CD Fractured time. Mr. Silverman has released 12 CDs in NY and works with the elderly population and Alzheimer patients in the Bronx. He is on the Staff of 92nd St Y, and will soon be teaching at the Duke Ellington School in NYC.
Dwayne “Cook” Broadnax was born in Philadelphia but now lives in Brooklyn, New York where he teaches Trap Drum Set Concepts at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University. He received his B.A. in jazz performance from Berklee College of Music in Boston. Cook was the drummer for the late great jazz vocalist Little Jimmy Scott for 14 years up until his death in 2014. He has also played with Kevin Eubanks, Johnny Copeland, Savion Glover, Eartha Kitt, Rachell Ferrell and saxophonist Illinois Jaquet. Mr. Broadnax has recorded with actress/model/singer Vanessa Williams, Jimmy Scott, Vanessa Rubin and Grammy Award winner Johnny Copeland. Mr. Broadnax performed in the blockbuster-hit Spike Lee movie Malcolm X and recently appeared on the hit television show Madame Secretary on CBS. Drummer for Concord church for over ten years, his self produced debut CD is entitled Finally Mine. Cook is the proud father of 2 children.
Carolina is the first Colombian to be part of the roster of recording musicians from the prestigious New York music label, Sunny Side Records. Since her selection for the 2011 Mary Lou Williams Woman in Jazz Festival for outstanding artists, Carolina brought attention at The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Legendary pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi described her music as “Extraordinary and Marvelous”.
In 2014 Carolina reaffirms herself to the jazz world with her debut recording, Sotareño, an album released as a collection of instrumental pieces that are at once a part of the jazz tradition but also relate to her roots in Colombia. Sotareño shows fabulous collaborators from the New York Jazz scene, including saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, trumpeter Michael Rodriguez, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummers Ludwig Afonso and Grammy award musician Antonio Sanchez.
A streetwise New York City native born and raised in Washington Heights, saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin has become one of the most highly sought-after players in jazz, soul and funk music. She first picked up the saxophone at LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, after which she joined the renowned jazz program at New York’s New School University. By that time she was already playing with renowned jazz figures like Clark Terry and Reggie Workman, which led to gigs and tours with a wide array of artists such as Rashied Ali, the David Murray Big Band, Vanessa Rubin and James “Blood” Ulmer. With her deep jazz roots, she was soon in demand as an arranger and horn section leader, landing stints with such acclaimed artists as Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Macy Gray, the Roots, and Anita Baker. Her debut CD as a bandleader is unconventional soul/funk album RETOX. Benjamin has also had the honor of performing at the White House at President Obama’s inaugural ball. She’s performed on four continents and her extensive recording credits include saxophone and arrangements for Santigold, Maurice Brown, the Clark Terry Big Band, Krystle Warren and Talib Kweli, among others.
James McBride is an author, musician and screenwriter. His landmark memoir, “The Color of Water,” rested on the New York Times bestseller list for two years. Aside from his writing background, James toured as a saxophonist sideman with jazz legend Jimmy Scott, among others.
He has also written songs (music and lyrics) for Anita Baker, Grover Washington Jr., Pura fe, Gary Burton, and even for the PBS television character “Barney.” He did not write the “I Love You” song for Barney but wishes he did. He received the Stephen Sondheim Award and the Richard Rodgers Foundation Horizon Award for his musical “Bo-Bos” co-written with playwright Ed Shockley. His 2003 “Riffin’ and Pontificatin’ ” Musical Tour was captured in a nationally televised Comcast documentary. He has been featured on national radio and television in America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. He often does his readings accompanied by a band.
Catherine Russell is an internationally acclaimed jazz vocalist and Grammy Award winner. She performs at prestigious venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, Yoshi’s in San Francisco and The Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Her father Luis Russell served as Louis Armstrong’s musical director for many years, and mother Carline Ray was one of the most in demand bassists throughout her over 50 years in the business. Catherine taught for many years at Berklee School of Music in Boston and gives master classes for Jazz Power Initiative’s youth programs.
Camille Thurman, saxophonist, vocalist, and composer is a young musician with an impressive list of accomplishments that extend beyond her years. Her lush, velvety, rich & warm sound on the tenor saxophone is steeped in the tradition of tenor greats Joe Henderson and Dexter Gordon and her singing reminiscent of her heroes Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan earning her the respect of audiences in the U.S., Italy, Peru, Russia, and Switzerland. Camille has performed at the Jazz Mobile in Harlem, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, and the International Women in Jazz Festival. She recorded the vocal and saxophone solo on A Healing Song (single) for the Cast CD of Message From Saturn, The Jazz Drama Program 2016 release.