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.
“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.”
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 →
Artists pictured above (clockwise, from top left): Barbara Morrison, Black Violin, Tia Fuller, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Gedeon Luke & the People, The Soul Rebels, Chubby Carrier, Ruthie Foster, Booker T. Jones and The Drifters)
African Americans have shaped many of the most iconic American music styles—gospel, jazz, rock and roll, funk, hip-hop…the list goes on and on. As we wrap up Black History Month, we’d like to celebrate the musical contributions of some of the many talented African American artists who’ve graced Levitt stages across the country. Continue reading →
We’re kicking off Black History Month spotlighting one of our favorite Levitt artists, the phenomenally talented Booker T. Jones—a musician whose creativity is matched by his courage. Jones made his Memphis debut at Levitt Shell in Memphis (then known as the Overton Park Shell) in 1968 with his GRAMMY-winning group, Booker T. and the M.G.’s. According to Rolling Stone, this group, made up of two black members and two white members, “became a symbol of racial integration in the South during the civil rights years.” Booker T. Jones and the M.G.’s were awarded the prestigious GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 for helping to create the sound of the 1960’s and using notes to build bridges between people.
Our hats go off to Jones, who has always used his courage and creativity to push our nation’s musical and racial boundaries. Learn more about Jones in his Meet the Artist video.