2020 DC Jazz Festival Winter Newsletter

March 6, 2020

2020 DC Jazz Festival Winter Newsletter

ALL ABOUT THE ARTIST – by Willard Jenkins, Artistic Director

For this installation of our All About The Artist series, DCJF has the pleasure of featuring visually-challenged pianist-keyboardist Matthew Whitaker. The brilliant, teenaged-Whitaker has been destined for jazz greatness from a young age. Blind since birth, Whitaker has never let his disability limit his artistic output. He’s taken full advantage of every opportunity that’s come his way, opening for legends like Stevie Wonder and taking the stage of some of the most famed venues in the world like the Apollo Theatre in New York and Washington, DC’s, Kennedy Center.


For six months, CBS News chronicled Matthew's life and his career to this point in the lead up to his profile on 60 Minutes that aired on Sunday, February 23rd at 7pm on CBS. In the segment you'll see correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi conduct intimate interviews with Whitaker and his parents that detail his early days as well as see exclusive footage of his performances at last year's 50th Anniversary of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and from his album release party at Yamaha Artist Services in NYC. They also captured footage of Matthew with the piano teacher that he's had since he was five years old along with scores of other enlightening factoids about the young savant.


Do not miss your chance to see Whitaker perform live as he graces the DCJF Transit Pier Stage at The Wharf on Saturday, June 20th.  In the meantime, here’s a performance featuring Matthew on both piano and organ, to whet your appetite:




by Heidi Martin, Education & Community Engagement Assistant 



Thursday, March 26th, 2020

Being able to give back to our community is one of the more rewarding aspects of being a part of the DC Jazz Festival family. In particular, our various education initiatives allow us to meaningfully and positively impact the lives of the youth in and around the DC metropolitan area. As a part of these initiatives, DCJF proudly presents acclaimed record producer and instrumentalist Nate Jolley, who will lead a professional development workshop for DMV educators on Thursday, March 26th, that demonstrates the academic connection between the key elements of jazz, hip-hop and go-go. The workshop will offer specific curriculum recommendations that aim to inspire students to get “jazzed” about learning. Music, geography and history teachers are specifically encouraged to participate but all educators are welcome! The workshop will include interactive demonstrations on swing, improvisation, blues, sampling, signifying and swagger and their intersection. This workshop is FREE to attend for DMV-based teachers, all you have to do is register!



4:30 –5:30 PM – Welcome Reception (Food and beverage provided) 

5:30 – 7:30 PM - Workshop




1801 Mississippi Avenue SE

Washington, DC 20032


This program is made possible through a grant by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency support in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding provided by the Galena-Yorktown Foundation, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Gillon Family Charitable Fund, Venable Foundation, The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, the John Edward Fowler Memorial Foundation, and our Circle of Friends

FACES OF THE FESTIVAL – by Matt Singer, Marketing Coordinator

Please join the DCJF family in welcoming Tess Holcom to the team! Tess is a current junior at The University of Kansas who is serving as an Education Intern for the 2020 DC Jazz Fest. Originally hailing from Shawnee, KS, Tess is pursuing a major in Political Science and American Studies with a minor in Leadership. She was accepted into the Washington, DC internship program offered by KU's Political Science department which provided her with housing for the semester as well as academic credit for her efforts. Holcom's work revolves around the promotion of DCJF's education initiatives (Jazzin’ AfterSchool and DC Jazz Bops!) and she has also assisted with the planning and execution of the Fishman Embassy Series. The experience has allowed her to learn about DC through the perspectives of the city's artists as well as through the lens of a nonprofit. In May, Holcom will return to Kansas to complete her undergraduate degree at KU. Tess aspires to create her own nonprofit organization that works with the government to create sustainable change in struggling communities.


We get by with a little help from our Friends! Each year, the DC Jazz Festival provides an unforgettable cultural experience for attendees and artists alike, but we could not come close to accomplishing our goals without the continued generosity of our Circle of Friends. Your tax-deductible contribution through our Circle of Friends will help our cause while giving you access to a variety of insider events at this year’s DC Jazz Festival. Your gift directly supports the DCJF’s Education Program, which allows students of all ages and backgrounds experience jazz in an educational and informative manner!


Learn more about our Circle of Friends and make a contribution today. For further information, email Sunny Sumter, Executive Director, at sunny.sumter@dcjazzfest.org.