In 2019, you’ll hear much ado from us about this being our fifteenth year of jazzing away in our nation’s capital. The weeks and months ahead of us are full to the brim of exciting announcements of the many musical delights to come. The DCJF team is going to be diligent in its work throughout the winter cultivating the best festival for you to experience next summer, which is just a quick six months away! But before we move onto the new year, I want to take a moment during this sentimental time of year to reflect back on 2018 and the past and talk about what it means to me going into 2019 as the Executive Director of the DC Jazz Festival.
Next year, it will officially be ten years since I joined the staff of the DC Jazz Festival. That means I will have had the honor and privilege of serving this great organization, this city, and all of these great fans for a decade! And in those years, I’ve seen that this role has always been more than a simple career or job, beyond even my livelihood and passion, and is much rather a part of a loving musical family. I have had the pleasure of seeing DC through the eyes of this organization through pivotal years of our country’s history and watched my actual family grow and dance and sing at our concerts. Stephanie Peters, wife of our founder, Charles Fishman, has a mantra that we persevere through the festival to leave this festival legacy to our children: Moses Fishman, Layla and Kobi Sana, Paul Bailey, Avi Gorodetski, all who have grown up with the festival. And, in those ten years, we’ve honored champions of the festival including our Founder Charles Fishman, his wife Stephanie Peters. and our Chair Emeritus Michael Sonnenreich.
I have seen this organization grow and flourish during many periods of change, two very historic and very contrasting presidential administrations that reflect the ever-shifting sentiments of this country towards culture, art and life itself. Ten years at any organization is something to be proud of, but I’m prouder still to have done it with dedicated team members, partners, our badass board members including chair Conrad Kenley, founding chair Claude Bailey, education chair Ron Abramson, strategic plan chair Erik Moses, development chair Debbie Veney, marketing chair David Gorodetski, treasurer Harriet Sanford, vice chair Peter Gillon and directors Meryl Chertoff, Elliott Ferguson, Michelle Galle, Bill Kirk, Bob Marshall, Derrick Mashore, Stephen Riddick, Roger Schagrin, Leslie Whipkey, Carmencita Whonder; long-time staff contributors Willard Jenkins, Mikki Carlton, Mark O’Reilly, Sarah Hart, Anu Thapa, Aqmeri Amen, Louise Weissman, Skylar Rea, Rochelle Rice, Herman Burney, and all our jazz friends who make this work of culture creation, education, and celebration possible. So much of that has to do with one of the (unofficial) cornerstones of the DC Jazz Festival being “united we jazz.” The work this organization does is in service of all walks of life in DC, but what jazz also means as a foremost and integral American form of art borne from and woven through the rich history of diversity and adversity that informs it can’t be overlooked as something that has also made this duty the joy and privilege of my life for ten years.
Ten years has brought with it lots of lessons about patience. So just imagine what 15 years as an organization will bring in 2019, when DC JazzFest comes to you, firing on all cylinders with a jazz party to ring in the summer in the grandest of fashions. It takes a village to raise this festival, and I’m thrilled to have been a part of that village for ten years. So on that note, I want to thank you, the entire city of DC, for being the best jazz fans in all the land. You keep me inspired, year after year, wanting to give you and this city the best jazz festival it can have. Because this beautiful city and all of its beautiful people deserve it. I can’t wait for this family to jazz, united, in 2019. Happy Holidays!
- Sunny Sumter, Executive Director