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.

Percussionist Maria Marmarou just completed her freshman year at Temple University and the Boyer School of Music and Dance. A graduate of Kutztown High School, she has participated in several all-state and nationally recognized music festivals. She has performed with the South Philly Big Band, along with A-List musicians Marcell Bellinger, Mike Boone and Tim Warfield.

We are happy to announce Maria as our 2019 Billy Strayhorn Jazz Education Scholarship Award recipient for Temple and the Boyer School of Music and Dance Jazz Studies Program. She is pictured with one of her music mentors, Dr. Willis Rapp, recognized as one of the leaders over many years in percussion education and the principal conductor for the Reading Pops Orchestra.

Trumpeter Jamal Kemp is a sophomore at the Eastman School of Music. He plays in the trumpet section of the Eastman Jazz Ensemble. Jamal is working towards being a professional musician in New York City when he finishes school. Jamal was selected by several professors in the jazz studies department to be the 2019 Billy Strayhorn Jazz Education Scholarship Award recipient for Eastman.

We congratulate Jamal on this well deserved award and know he will make his dream of becoming a professional musician come true!

Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) is a music festival held every April in recognition of the significant contribution that jazz music has made to society. The aim of this annual event is to pay tribute to jazz for its historic and cultural significance by encouraging schools, governments and organizations to participate in various events such as free jazz concerts and educational programs.

JAM was first established in 2001 by John Edward Hasse, a curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. It was initially funded by the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, whose archives are currently housed at the Smithsonian.

Through jazz-focused events, JAM works to support today’s jazz scene and encourage an appreciation of jazz music in people of all ages. Throughout the month of April, people will be encouraged to participate in jazz activities such as studying jazz music, attending jazz concerts, reading books, or just simply listening to good jazz music on the radio.

Pictured above: The 2015 Jazz Appreciation Month poster featuring Billy Strayhorn.

North Carolina State University LIVE is thrilled to have co-commissioned David Roussève/REALITY’s latest work, Halfway to Dawn, a jubilant dance-theater piece that celebrates all facets of the influential jazz composer Billy Strayhorn’s rich and complicated life. Weaving dance, video, and Strayhorn’s masterful music, the project celebrates Strayhorn while creating conversations around race, sexuality, and the danger of placing the quest for fame ahead of personal freedom.

After putting final touches on Halfway to Dawn at NC State LIVE in the fall, the company returns to Raleigh February 25 – March 2, 2019 for a week of community events and the North Carolina premiere. The week includes multiple opportunities for North Carolina State students to engage with this world class company – through class visits, dance classes, guest lectures, and more. Equally important to NC State LIVE and David Roussève, is that the greater Triangle community can experience impactful programming related to Strayhorn, who spent much of his childhood in Hillsborough, NC.

Check out our February and March calendar for more information on the great events associated with this full week of Billy Strayhorn’s personal history and musical legacy.

For the 3rd straight year, The Billy Strayhorn Foundation has given a financial assistance award to a deserving organization in the host city for the Jazz Education Network conference (JEN). With the conference being in Reno, Nevada this year. the music institution selected was the Reno Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Established in 2006, the RYJO mission is to assemble by audition, the top middle and high school jazz talent in the Reno-Sparks-Carson and Tahoe communities in order to provide opportunities for the performance, preservation, appreciation and study of JAZZ.

The RYJO is led by 3 very dedicated Directors, co founders Vernon and Karen Scarbrough, along with Director of combos, Doug Coomler. RYJO has also recently released a CD called DECADE highlighting the playing of their 2016 members.

We wish RYJO students and staff continued success with their music program and wonderful mission.

Pictured above; Strayhorn Jazz Education Coordinator Galen Demus with student members and staff of the Reno Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Billy Strayhorn Songs Inc. and the Billy Strayhorn Foundation participated in the 2019 Jazz Education Network conference (JEN) held this year in Reno, Nevada. The Jazz Education Network is dedicated to building the jazz arts community by advancing education, promoting performances and developing audiences.

The Billy Strayhorn booth provided information on the musical legacy of Billy Strayhorn, handout information about the recent archive acquisition by the Library of Congress, and conducted a raffle giveaway for the Strayhorn books “Lush Life” and “Strayhorn; An Illustrated Life.”

Lots of friends, visitors and Strayhorn admirers came by the booth to talk and just take in all things Strayhorn. Mark your calendar to be at next years conference in New Orleans !

Selected by Pittsburgh Magazine, these are the people who, throughout the past 200-plus years, helped put Pittsburgh on the map. These 50 made contributions both locally and nationally to fields ranging from business and government to culture and sports –– all of which put the spotlight on Pittsburgh. Selected at #19, arranger, composer and pianist…Pittsburgh legend, Mr. Billy Strayhorn.

Click below to see the full list…

https://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/Pittsburgh-Magazine/January-2019/The-50-Greatest-Pittsburghers-of-All-Time/