Author Archives: Nicole McGaffey

Header-black_pantherOnly a week after its release, Marvel’s blockbuster hit Black Panther has already broken several box office records and is on track to continue doing so. In addition to introducing audiences to another Marvel superhero, the film honors the vibrancy of black culture in the people, places and music thoughtfully brought to life onscreen—which brings us to today’s post! As Black Panther invites its viewers into the fictional Afro-futuristic utopia of Wakanda (and briefly back to 1990s Oakland, Calif.), its visceral soundtrack leads the way. Today we’re bringing you 10 fun facts about the musicians, instruments and compositions that help set the stage for Black Panther. Continue reading

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“Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith. In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these. This is triumphant music.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Opening Address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival

Last month we celebrated the legacy of Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a courageous African American visionary who challenged our nation to allow all citizens, regardless of skin color, to have the opportunity to reach their potential—as promised in the U.S. Constitution. He is one of the many African Americans who persisted in spite of tremendous adversity to help secure the civil liberties we enjoy today. His story is one of many. African Americans have made important contributions to all areas of American life. And this month, Black History Month, is an annual celebration of those contributions. As a funder of projects that build and strengthen communities through music, today we’re turning the spotlight on three African American jazz musicians who’ve used their talents to do just that. Continue reading

  • 1920 | Antwerp, Belgium – First Olympic flag, athlete’s oath and peace dove release

If you didn’t get up in the wee hours of the night to watch the opening ceremony of the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, you’ll have the chance to join in on the ancient tradition this evening! Ceremonies have been an integral part of the Olympics since the earliest games in ancient Greece, when the start and finish of each game were marked by a celebratory feast, song and poetry. While rooted in the tradition of those first Greek games, modern Olympics feature elaborate opening, closing and medal ceremonies—with opening ceremonies showcasing the host country’s culture, history and importance to the global community. Today, we’re exploring how Olympic ceremonies have evolved since the first modern Olympic Games in Athens were held in 1896 and highlighting some of the historic ceremonies that laid the groundwork for the global spectacles we enjoy today. Continue reading

Header_1_grammyThis past Sunday, nearly 20 million viewers tuned in to watch the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards live broadcast. Music giants across the industry flocked to Madison Square Garden in New York to honor their peers. This year, 15 GRAMMY nominations went to artists who had performed on Levitt stages and we were thrilled to see that two of those artists went on to take home those prestigious gilded gramophones!

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  • Levitt AMP Berea audience members rejoice under rainbow-filled skies.

As January comes to a close and we march toward the 2018 Levitt concert season, we’re looking back at the incredible 2017 season.

Last year, 450+ Levitt concerts took place in 22 towns and cities—bringing the power of free, live music to communities coast-to-coast. The joy we saw in the photos that poured in was too contagious not to share with you all!

So, if you’re looking for a quick mid-week pick-me-up, you’re in luck! Relive the joy of the 2017 Levitt concert season by checking out the brief slideshow we’ve put together!

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressing the crowd at the 1963 March on Washington.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day—a nationwide day of service celebrating a visionary who challenged the nation to recognize the inherent potential in each American citizen. As the most visible spokesperson and leader of the civil rights movement, Dr. King inspired millions of people to value every individual and recognize that our country would be stronger when everyone was given equal opportunity to maximize their potential.

Often times when we think of Dr. King, four words come to mind: “I have a dream…”
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header - coachellaThis week the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival lineup was announced and we were thrilled to see some familiar faces! Once again, several artists who’ve graced Levitt stages—including Tank & the Bangas, The Buttertones, The Regrettes, Kamasi Washington and The Delirians—will be flocking to Indio, Calif. this spring to perform alongside rising stars and musical giants at Coachella. Continue reading

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Last month, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released Rural Arts, Design and Innovation in America: Research Findings from the Rural Establishment Innovation Survey. The report pulls compelling findings from data captured in the 2014 Rural Establishment Innovation Survey (REIS)—illustrating the economic impact of the arts in rural communities by identifying key patterns and relationships among arts organizations, design-integrated firms and business innovators in rural settings. We enjoyed this report so much, we created the infographic above to highlight a few of our favorite findings. Click here for the NEA’s full list of takeaways and here to read the full report. Continue reading

Eleanor Roosevelt holding a Universal Declaration of Human Rights poster

Former First Lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt, chair of the drafting committee, holding a Universal Declaration of Human Rights poster in English. UN Photo (1949)

All too often, access to the arts is mistakenly labeled as a “luxury.” Here at Levitt we believe that experiencing art and culture in one’s community is essential to a healthy and happy life—it’s a basic human right. Interestingly enough, arts and culture are actually mentioned in Article 27 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will be commemorated around the world this Sunday, Human Rights Day. Continue reading