Five-time Grammy winner Dianna Reeves has just been awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters award. As a result of her breathtaking virtuosity, improvisational prowess, and unique jazz and R&B stylings, Reeves received the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for three consecutive recordings – a Grammy first in any vocal category. She was also featured in George Clooney’s six-time Academy Award nominated “Good Night, and Good Luck,” Reeves won the Best Jazz Vocal Grammy for the film's soundtrack.
Reeves has recorded and performed with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. She has also recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim and was a featured soloist with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. Reeves was the first Creative Chair for Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the first singer to ever perform at the famed Walt Disney Concert Hall.
In recent years Reeves has toured the world in a variety of contexts including “Sing the Truth,” a musical celebration of Nina Simone. She performed at the White House on multiple occasions including President Obama's State Dinner for the President of China as well as the Governors’ Ball. Reeves’ most recent hit release is Beautiful Life. She is joined today by artists Peter Martin, Romero Lubambo, Reginald Veal, Terron Gully.
Homegrown star Marcus Johnson, an extraordinary jazz keyboardist and composer, will perform his own original compositions, a blend of contemporary jazz stylings and hip-hop rhythms. He describes his music as “instrumental R&B with a D.C. bounce.” Marcus began playing the piano at age nine and, from that point, he wanted to “create classics, not just hit songs.” Marcus is a founding member of the Silver Spring Jazz Festival.
Akua Allrich’s musical roots run deeply into blues, soul and rhythm and blues, with a clear grounding in jazz and pan-African music. She is the child of a musical family. Her father, Agyei Akoto, was a founding member of the jazz group, Nation, and recorded two albums during Allrich’s youth. Akua sings in many languages including Portuguese, French, Spanish, English, Xhosa, and Twi. Given her ability to capture the essence of a broad range of musical genres, Allrich is often likened to legendary artists such as Oscar Brown, Jr., Miriam Makeba and Nina Simone. She has developed popular tribute programs involving the latter two women and other great African American women of jazz. Akua Allrich was educated at Howard University, where she obtained her BM in jazz vocals and a master’s degree in social work.
With over 30 years as a jazz musician, Charles Rahmat Woods has performed live with an array of Jazz greats and has produced five albums. A graduate of Syracuse University, he has studied under symphonic reed master Ralph D'Mello, flutist Sue Roberts, and music historian Talik Abdul Basheer. The Charles Woods Quintet’s performance today will consist of a few original compositions, and arrangements of works by Jazz masters, the Great American Songbook adaptations, and jazz pieces with selective emphasis on works contributed by musicians who have Native American heritage.
The Jazz Academy of Music is the manifestation of a longtime dream of Music Director Paul Carr to extend the music education opportunities afforded him, as an inner-city youth, to others. Paul completed his formal education at Howard University and has dedicated his career to mastering the technicallychallenging saxophone. The Jazz Academy provides instructional opportunities to children who have an interest in developing their talent and knowledge about music. The ultimate goals are to advance and preserve jazz music by instilling youth with a passion and love for jazz. Today’s performers are all current or past students of the Jazz Academy of Music.