IMPORTANT PERSONAL MESSAGES FROM THE JAS CHAIRMAN & PRESIDENT/CEO
From the Chairman:
Dear Friends of JAS,
“Where words fail, music speaks,” says the poet Hans Christian Andersen. The plight of African-Americans has been oft expressed in music, in the very foundations of jazz – in the work songs, the spiritual music and the blues, but that doesn’t mean if we are jazz fans that we know the plight of black lives through the ages. The horrific deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery are not just singular “unfortunate” instances, they tell us that despite progress, we still have a systemic problem of racial injustice in this country and we have not progressed enough to rid our culture of racial bias.
We at JAS are speaking out today in support of black lives, and well we should. But just saying “we stand with you,” somehow does not feel like enough. It is easy to say, and it is well-meaning, but how do we actually progress?
It must start with reaching across the cultural divide. Those of us who are not black, cannot begin to know how far we need to understand and change unless we engage in cross-racial friendships, business relationships and neighborhood connections.
At Jazz Aspen Snowmass we pride ourselves in presenting “jazz spoken globally” which purposefully celebrates and educates not only the diversity within the jazz music genre but that also exudes pride in the very genesis of jazz from its African roots.
We need to do more. We need to understand more, relate more, educate more. We need to seek and promote the positives from the pain, the realism, even the humor and the improvisational innovation which is the gift of jazz music. If each one of us befriends one person from another culture, I believe just that one step, practiced broadly, would make a difference.
JAS joins the call for reform and for righting the profound injustices of systemic racism. We join with many others in insisting upon accountability and change.
As a country we have been knocked down by a foreign virus and then by domestic tragedies. Let us join together to make the future better and one which is rid of racial bias and a future of which we can be proud.
Chairman of the Board
Jazz Aspen Snowmass
From the President/CEO:
Dear Friends of JAS,
At this time of extraordinary challenge & heartbreak to our community, our country and indeed the world, JAS joins countless other arts organizations to add our voice and our support for the bedrock values which the arts collectively have supported for generations:
- To heal, lift and inspire
- To bring people together
- To rise above all that might otherwise drive us apart
- To find ways to improve ourselves as individuals, as organizations, as a community.
Historically in times of crisis, the Arts have played a crucial role in re-emerging and renewing, and now the need is greater than ever before, for all to act.
Jazz music is a uniquely American creation, born in and around New Orleans in the early 1900’s, the product of Black American innovators, the freed descendants of Africans who were former slaves. Over the next (50) years, jazz spread around the world to countless countries on every continent, and transmitted by example, some of our most cherished American values:
- Freedom & Democracy
- Respect, Dialogue & Exchange
- Improvisation and Imagination.
The jazz bandstand created a magical world where anything could happen. A place where great Artists both Black and White would find some of their earliest common ground in an emerging USA still defining itself…from icons like Duke Ellington to Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald to Billie Holiday and countless others, an example of what could happen …and only in America could it have begun.
JAS will do all it can in the coming year and beyond to shine a clear light on the beautiful American music called Jazz, a joyous and optimistic explosion of sound, a unique and enduring Gift of American culture to the world. Part of our ongoing Mission is to help support this music and ensure its survival exactly because of the values and the culture it represents.
Today we add our voices to those saying we, all of us, must do better.
President & CEO