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Savannah Jazz Association (Savannah, Chatham County)

For 39-years, the mission of the Coastal Jazz Association (DBA Savannah Jazz) has been: To promote, present, preserve and perpetuate the art form known as Jazz through a series of community and regional events, programs, and activities.

In carrying out this mission, Savannah Jazz will:

  • Encourage the development of jazz talent by means of youth and emerging artists, projects, scholarships, educational grants, and educational awards to music students.
  • Present, foster and promote the availability of jazz music to the public through the use of media, concerts, festivals, and other live performances. Enhance and promote interest in and appreciation of jazz music through outreach and educational programming.

Our largest initiative, the Annual Savannah Jazz Festival, provides a valuable community service by uniting people from Savannah, and visitors from across the country and throughout the world. We do this primarily as an entirely free festival allowing accessibility to great music for all races and classes of people. The Festival sets a positive example, by engaging a cross generational, multi-cultural audience peacefully and joyfully through world-class jazz performances. For the past 39 years we have provided performances during the last week of September adding to the quality of life for Savannah and its visitors. In 2019 we hosted over 40,000 attendees and contributed $1.3 Million in economic impact to the City of Savannah. And in 2020 we live-streamed the festival to over 175,000 people around the world and will continue to do so in the future.

This year the 40th Savannah Jazz Festival was cancelled in Forsyth Park on August 24th by Mayor Van Johnson’s order revoking all permits for large events on City properties. But our shows WILL go on from Savannah Station with a studio audience of up to 200 and we will live-stream all performances with WSAV once again to reach record numbers of viewers around the world! People can enter our raffle to win tickets to join the studio audience at www.savanahjazz.org and all live streaming information is available there as well.

Other programs include our monthly concert series, Master Classes, and scholarships for rising high school seniors and college musicians as well.

A new initiative, the subject of the grant proposal, is The Savannah Jazz History and Hall of Fame in the Savannah History Museum. The exhibit will house a permanent display educating hundreds of thousands of visitors and residents each year each year on the rich history of jazz in Savannah— a heritage as old and vibrant as that of New Orleans. This will be the first time the story of Savannah’s Jazz has been largely told. The exhibit will be housed in a 1,300 sq. ft. gallery in the Savannah History Museum in the Visitor’s Center operated by the Coastal Heritage Society. Utilizing a combination of artifacts, displays, and interactive media, it will tell Savannah’s jazz history from its inception to today in five distinct areas: The West Broad Street Scene, The Tybrisa Scene, The Modern Era, The Savannah Jazz Hall of Fame.

The project fits the overall mission of our agency in that it will educate a diverse audience of attendees on the following topics: America’s indigenous art form of jazz and its African roots; Savannah’s jazz history dating back to the early 1900s; Savannah’s jazz legends in the Hall of Fame including Joe “King” Oliver, Johnny Mercer, Ben Tucker, and fifty more world-renowned names. Not only will the exhibit educate on these topics, it will also encourage people to attend the Annual Savannah Jazz Festival and attract growing numbers of visitors and attendees. It will also demonstrate the unique nature of the City of Savannah by calling out the history of our diverse cultures and how we have grown more united through jazz over hundreds of years. Ultimately it may inspire the next generations of jazz legends with the high number of school children we expect to visit. We intend to align the exhibit with our ongoing Master Classes conduct educational lectures in the 200-seat auditorium for people of all ages. This project will enhance all that we do as an organization and enrich the lives of visitors and residents. The project is set to open in early Spring of 2022 and Savannah Jazz is seeking roughly $40,000 in additional funds. Donations to the Exhibit project can be made on www.savannahjazz.org/exhibit.

We rely solely on our Memberships, Sponsors, and Grants to keep our programs accessible to all people. Members enjoy 10 free monthly concerts per year! Consider joining our family of members and donors at www.savannahjazz.org.