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December 22, 2011
Jazzistry--jazz + history + artistry.... is the live performance edu-tainment program that was created by Vincent York about 14 years ago. It changes students and adults view of American history and culture and their connection to our multicultural heritage, and teaches the historical significance of jazz, a uniquely American gift to the world. Beginning in Africa 400 years ago and coming all the way up to HipHop, the multimedia program demonstrates how musical traditions from all over the world collided in the New World, wove together in New Orleans, and produced the foundation of ALL American music. From African work songs to ragtime, spirituals to the Blues, marching bands to Dixieland jazz, Bebop to HIpHop... Jazzistry demonstrates the multicultural integration that is present in ALL American culture. The show literally swings through the decades, showcasing how "the history is in the music, and the music IS the history"... making all music more meaningful, once you understand what you are hearing. Jazzistry includes deep curriculum connections for content area teachers to reinforce and extend integrated instruction into social studies, language arts, math, science content. Jazzistry helps everyone understand how issues of race, gender, class and political power have formed American cultural traditions... and how that creativity, self expression and artistry are indistinguishable and universal. York is an exceptional role model of life-long research, dedicated focus on one's 'craft,' and the passion of a virtuoso. He inspires many students to pursue instrumental music and renews their interest in history as a way to understand their own contemporary interests (i.e. their music). This is a program that 'works' and enlightens audiences of all ages... but the focus on schools (especially students and teachers) means non-stop fund-raising and grant-writing by Jazzistry's small staff and large core of volunteers. Winner of the 2008 MI Governor's Award for Arts Education program, Jazzistry continues to reach more schools each year in spite of the challenging nonprofit climate. This is an outstandingly powerful message and medium for helping all Americans understand our shared multicultural heritage and "get along better." It should be a national curriculum and be in EVERY school in the US! Michigan is blessed to have the inspiring educational project of Jazzistry and Mr. York's dedication to spreading the harmonious message! Keep on swinging, Jazzistry!!
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