Addie Whitlow, Chattanooga, Tenn. – Founded in 2011, Jazzanooga is a community initiative to celebrate jazz music and its role in Chattanooga’s heritage.
The mission of Jazzanooga is to promote jazz and its related music throughout the greater Chattanooga region through performance and music education. Jazzanooga offers a variety of programming in order to accomplish this goal.
Shane Morrow, cofounder of Jazzanooga, said he felt there was a need to bring more awareness to one of America’s true art forms, jazz.
“Jazz has been called America’s classical music,” Morrow said. “It originated here in the South and is celebrated worldwide, but I felt that Chattanooga’s role in jazz has been understated.”
Morrow, along with James McKissic, director of Multicultural Affairs for the City of Chattanooga, came up with the concept of creating an educational and entertaining platform that places focus on Chattanooga’s musical heritage.
“We actually started with a one-day community jazz concert at the Hunter Museum in 2011,” said Morrow.
The influence of Jazzanooga’s origin came from iconic figures like Bessie Smith, Yusef Lateef and Valida Snow, who all came from Chattanooga and played a crucial role in the world of jazz music.
“It is my hope that we have made a positive impact through providing enriching, educational and entertaining programming that appeals to the broadest possible and diverse demographic,” said Morrow.
“While serving as a vehicle to stimulate local business, attract tourists, and further enhance Chattanooga’s image as a vibrant cultural center.”
Jazzanooga is consistently seeking out community partnerships to make things happen. In addition to partnering with the Bessie Smith Cultural Center to present Live at the Bessie, Jazzanooga is also sponsoring Road to Nightfall and the Songwriter Shootout at The Camp House.
The 2016 Jazzanooga Festival, a month-long celebration that features local and regional performers and is showcased throughout several venues in the city, begins in April.
Morrow said the festival will feature national headliners and Grammy Winners Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Octet, Grammy Winner Christian McBride Trio, Jazz Guitarist Julian Lage, and many more.
“2016 celebrates our fifth anniversary so we really wanted to celebrate this year with a roster of the next generation of jazz contemporary artists,” Morrow said.
In addition to Jazzanooga’s upcoming events in Chattanooga, they will also be partnering with UTC to present a project called “Chit Chatt on the Big Nine,” which will feature video interviews and information about the current arts and culture events happening in the downtown MLK corridor.
Morrow said The Jazzanooga Experience on Groove 93.5, their weekly Sunday radio show, features a segment called MOCS BEAT that gives listeners an opportunity to find out what’s going on with current events and info happening on campus. It is hosted by Jazzanooga’s UTC media interns.
There will also be more upcoming events with UTC and the MLK Corridor in the next couple of months.
“The MLK Boulevard community reflects over 100 years of African American History and was an entertainment haven in its heyday,” Morrow said. “It was a mecca for music like jazz, blues and soul music.”