A renovation project to restore a piece of Hillsborough’s history, will be done by a local artist. It will be the first downtown mural: a tribute to jazz pianist and composer Billy Strayhorn.

Artist Max Dowdle reached out to the town about painting a mural, economic development planner Shannan Campbell said. The mural, “Take the ‘A’ Train,” will honor Strayhorn and collaborator Duke Ellington’s signature composition and feature Strayhorn playing a piano on a field of yellows and blues with a train in the background. The painting could start in early to mid-August 2019 and take about two weeks, Dowdle said.

Strayhorn, who was born in Dayton, Ohio, often visited his grandparents’ home in Hillsborough as a child. His father and grandfather worked at the Eno Mill, and he would take the train to visit an uncle in Durham, the Orange County Historical Museum reported. At age 23, Strayhorn joined Ellington’s orchestra, becoming an influential figure in American jazz. He stayed with Ellington until his death at age 51 in 1967.

Held June 12th at the Library of Congress in Washington DC., this special panel-and-performance event highlighted the personal collection of an important star in the jazz firmament, composer, arranger and pianist Billy Strayhorn. Saxophonist Chris Potter, Strayhorn biographer David Hajdu, and jazz scholar Walter van de Leur, PhD, joined the composer’s niece, A. Alyce Claerbaut, President, Strayhorn Songs, Inc., and nephew, Gregory A. Morris, PhD, for an introduction to the recently acquired Library of Congress jazz treasure. Now available to scholars, researchers and performers, the collection contains nearly 18,000 documents, including approximately 3,000 music manuscripts in Strayhorn’s own handwriting—lead sheets, piano-vocal scores and complete orchestrations—and a rich trove of sketch materials. A list of manuscripts includes hundreds of songs, written by Strayhorn—many for the Duke Ellington orchestra—-among them landmark compositions like “Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Lush Life,” “Something to Live For,” “Rain Check” and “Chelsea Bridge.”

The Nashville Jazz Workshop Summer Jazz Camp is for students ages 13-19, and is suitable for all instruments and vocalists. Directed by Evan Cobb, the jazz camp features ensembles, masterclasses, ear training, repertoire building, phrasing/vocal expression, lyric interpretation, music theory improvisation class, jam sessions and more!

This year we salute our 2019 Billy Strayhorn Jazz Education Scholarship Award recipients from NJW:

Vocalist Eboni Stewart and Pianist Tyler Bullock.

Congrats also to camp founders Lori Mechem and Roger Spencer for their for their continued commitment to jazz education and the positive effect is has on the youth and the community.