Tag Archives: Technology
Jazz Appreciation Month 2015 is now in the archives. From Philadelphia to Paris, fans turned out to celebrate America’s classical art form.
But there are early warning signs that all is not well. According to Nielsen‘s 2014 Year End Report, jazz is tied with classical music as the “least consumed” music in the U.S. Jazz represented just 0.3% of all music streamed in 2014, a reflection of its aging audience.
The point about young people that is really critical, is that if we have so many young artists working in jazz, why aren’t they able to engage young people themselves? Most young artists I know do not have a huge youth audience themselves. That’s really critical because at some point the elders are gonna be gone and so who is going to be in the audience? So, I challenge young artists to come up with some strategies and I challenge the curators to come with strategies to help young artists to be able to present their stuff.
One of the strategies must be to make jazz fun for the audience. Thelonious Sphere Monk III (T.S. Monk) recently wrote:
If we just add some ingredients from the rest of the entertainment world, people will view jazz as fun once again, and they will come back. If millions didn’t love the music today, there wouldn’t be what we call a catalog, and my father, Thelonious Sphere Monk, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, John Coltrane, Buddy Rich and so many more, would have disappeared. We wouldn’t have had an International Jazz Day concert streamed to 1.2 billion people in 2013, and 2.5 billion people in 2014. None of that would be possible if there wasn’t an inherent love of this music, ironically by Americans. We often love ourselves, and don’t know it.
So I say to all my friends in jazz — musicians, promoters, club owners, listeners, and everybody — let’s bring back the fun. Let’s go big. That will bring the attention, and the money will follow.
To borrow a phrase, listeners just wanna have fun.
The Knight Foundation issued an open call for ideas on how to get more Americans involved in their communities so that they will have a voice in local, state and national issues. I answered the call and submitted an idea to increase Millennials’ interest in elections, boost voter turnout and jump-start civic participation.
Some background. Americans between the ages of 18 and 35 have the lowest turnout. In Philadelphia, Millennials are not targeted for voter outreach because they are “inactive” (meaning they have not voted in five years or are not registered to vote).
With the cutback in civic education in the schools and no targeted outreach, it’s not surprising that Millennials are not showing up on Election Day. In 2014, turnout for Pennsylvania’s competitive gubernatorial race was 36 percent. That was Philadelphia’s lowest citywide turnout in a midterm election since 1998. By one estimate, youth turnout was 20 percent, the worst turnout in a midterm election since 1940.
The takeaway of the 2008 and 2012 elections is that young people will turn out if they are the target of voter education initiatives. But the dirty little secret about voting is that incumbents have a vested interest in keeping the electorate small. Philly’s political machine spends few, if any, resources encouraging new voters to get involved. The lack of information and the city’s archaic ward system are barriers to participation.
Yo! Philly Votes will bridge the information gap. Our mobile app will provide a calendar of nonpartisan candidate and policy forums, and an Election Day incident reporting tool. The flattening of newsrooms means there are fewer journalists to report on what’s happening at polling places. So we will crowdsource election protection.
For more information, check out Yo! Philly Votes at Knight News Challenge.
This month marks the 60th anniversary of the death of legendary saxophonist Charlie “Yardbird” Parker who died on March 12, 1955. Bird lives on in the musicians he influenced from bebop to hip-hop.
In June, Opera Philadelphia will present the world premiere of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird.
As luck would have it, the first performance will be on June 5th. On June 5, 1945, the Dizzy Gillespie Quartet, featuring Charlie Parker, played the Academy of Music. Seated in the next-to-last row was John Coltrane who was seeing Bird for the first time. Coltrane later said:
The first time I heard Bird play, it hit me right between the eyes.
These are the kinds of stories we will share at All That Philly Jazz — a virtual jazz scene — which will be launched on Friday at the March convening of Open Access Philly. The event is free and open to the public. To register, go here.
This month marks the 50th anniversary of John Coltrane’s 1964 masterpiece “A Love Supreme.”
From Boston to San Francisco, Americans are celebrating what many consider the greatest spiritual jazz composition of all time. Sadly, we in Philadelphia are marking the occasion with a commitment to fight to preserve Coltrane’s presence in the city that nurtured and shaped him.
As I previously wrote, the Pennrose Company demolished the “Tribute to John Coltrane” mural.
The company did it with no input from the community and no plan to preserve the presence of an American cultural icon. The loss sparked an outrage on social media. Tweet after tweet asked the same question: WTF?!
Through public subsidies and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, Pennrose has gotten rich building properties for the poor. The politically-connected company has been sucking on the public teat for more than 20 years. Indeed, it is one of the nation’s top 10 affordable housing developers.
While Pennrose can afford hundreds of thousands in political contributions, primarily to Republicans, it has contributed nothing to replace the tribute to the man that put Philly jazz on the map.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The City of Philadelphia’s campaign finance database is a hot mess.
In any case, social media provides a platform to raise awareness of an issue. But to make something happen, one has to agitate offline. So the Avenging The Ancestors Coalition has organized an Arts and Culture Committee, which I chair. Our mission is to preserve African Americans’ cultural heritage – and presence – in Philadelphia by any means necessary (BAMN).
To get involved, come to the next monthly meeting of ATAC, which will be held on Monday, December 15, 2014, at 7:00 p.m. at Zion Baptist Church, Broad and Venango Streets. For more information, call (215) 552-8751.
Tuesday is Election Day. You know the mantra: Our ancestors died for the right to die. It’s your civic responsibility. It could be a lot worse. Vote for the lesser of two evils. This is the most important election since [fill in the blank].
If you’re unsure of the location of your polling place, hours of operation or who’s on the ballot, there’s an app for that — Get to the Polls.
While I’m a voting rights activist, I understand why many are skeptical about the efficacy of voting. It seems like little ever changes for the better. Yes, your vote is your voice. But the change you want doesn’t just happen. You have to make it happen.
Turning out to vote is the first step. But civic engagement is a process, not an event. Truth be told, elected officials want you to go away after you vote for them. To make a difference, you must stay engaged after Election Day.
You also must hold those for whom you vote accountable. No elected official should be given a pass simply because he or she looks like you.
Still wondering #TurnOutforWhat?
The Mural Arts Program began in 1984 as the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network. Thirty years and more than 3,600 murals later, Philly has become the “City of Murals.”
The murals tell the story of Philadelphia, a city of neighborhoods:
But as stunning as the murals are themselves, they are, most importantly, the visual products of a powerful and collaborative grassroots process in communities. The mural-making process gives neighborhood residents a voice to tell their individual and collective stories, a way to pass on culture and tradition, and a vehicle to develop and empower local leaders.
Indeed, the murals tell the stories of those whom W.E.B. DuBois called “The Philadelphia Negro.”
Murals reflect the character, history, activism and people specific to that location. The faces on the wall are family members and neighbors. Understandably, folks are outraged when a mural is torn down or covered up.
If you see a good fight, get in it.
Don’t just complain how gentrification. Get in this good fight. Our fight is not to save brick-and-mortar structures. Rather, we want to preserve African Americans’ cultural, civic and educational heritage in Philadelphia.
To get involved, call Avenging the Ancestors Coalition Arts and Culture Committee at (215) 552-8751. With technology, we can recreate better murals. We can make walls talk.