Category Archives: Holidays

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It’s hard to overstate the immeasurable legacy left behind by Nina Simone, one of jazz music’s most inventive and resilient icons. Born on this day, February 21, in 1933, Simone quietly produced an output of almost two dozen albums spanning classical, blues and early R&B, while channeling bold social commentary and civil rights activism through her work. While she only received two GRAMMY Award nominations in her lifetime (and two posthumously), Simone’s artistry continues to earn newfound meaning through the music of countless contemporary artists, documentaries and books. Today, as part of our ongoing celebration of Black History Month, we’re taking a look at why Nina Simone’s contributions to music are cemented in history.

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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

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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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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

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Brooks Museum’s Light Festival finale at Levitt Shell in Memphis.

Happy December, Levitteers!

It’s Friday afternoon AND it’s the first day of the twinkliest month of all—what’s not to celebrate? Whatever types of festive gatherings this month holds for you, your friends and family, we hope you find some calm during this busy season and remember to soak up every twinkly wonder surrounding you.

Today, we salute the courageous men and women who’ve fought for the freedoms we Americans hold dearly. The fundamental American freedoms that are positioned at the core of the Levitt program—like the right to gather and the right to express ourselves—are defended by the brave and selfless individuals who’ve served (and continue to serve) in the Armed Forces. Coming from all backgrounds and bringing their own unique talents, service members reflect the rich diversity of this country. 

We’ve all enjoyed the musical talents of the veterans below—from iconic rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix to 2000s R&B crooner Shaggy. And these are only a few of the countless individuals who’ve helped to protect our rights AND shape American music history.

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Along with July being National Picnic Month, this month is also National Park and Recreation Month, which makes sense considering that picnics and parks go hand in hand! We love this infographic created by National Recreation and Park Association that shares some fun facts about community spaces boosting positive attitudes toward cultural diversity, how playing outside enhances vision and that half of exercise in America takes place at parks.

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