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Women's Jazz Festival: Ella, Ella: A Centennial Celebration of Mama Jazz


Monday, March 27, 2017, 7 p.m.

Program Locations:

Fully accessible to wheelchairs
There is an admission charge for this event: $30: General Admission, $25: Schomburg Society Members (March 20 is FREE) - Ticket and Registration Info via

This annual tradition in honor of Women’s History Month features some of the best-known and unsung female performers in jazz today. Our 2017 festival will celebrate Ella Fitzgerald’s centennial birthday and continued influence on the evolution of jazz. "Ella, Ella: A Centennial Celebration of Mama Jazz!" is slated for four consecutive Mondays–March 6, 13, 20, and 27. Each night will explore the multi-dimensional music, life, and legacy of this jazz legend. The festival’s guest curators are critically acclaimed harpist Brandee Younger and ethnomusicologist Aja Burrell Wood, and The Afro-Latino Festival.


March 6: Divine Ella

Acclaimed harpist Brandee Younger will join singer Jean Baylor, Camille Thurman (alto sax and vocals), Courtney Bryan (piano), Dezron Douglas (bass) and Kassa Overall (drums) as they highlight Ella Fitzgerald’s influence in both sacred and secular music. The evening will draw on Fitzgerald’s record, “Brighten the Corner,” offering original compositions and new arrangements of favorite Fitzgerald masterpieces that evoke a spiritual essence.

This program is guest curated by harpist Brandee Younger, a fearless and versatile talent, who defies genres and labels as a classically-trained musician playing in the avant-garde tradition of her sonically forward predecessors Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane.

March 13: Ella is Present

Grammy-winning jazz drummer, composer, and producer Terri Lyne Carrington, together with special guests saxophonist/keyboardist Casey Benjamin, vocalist Charenée Wade, pianist/composer Marc Cary, Nagha Santos, saxophonist Edmar Colon, bassist Rashaan Carter, guitarist Ben Eunson, drummer/turntablist DJ Val Jeanty, will perform a tribute to the indelible legacy of Ella Fitzgerald. This retrospective will present Fitzgerald’s impact on today’s diverse and progressive voices and explore her unique influence in contemporary music. Guest curated by Aja Burrell Wood,  enthnomusicologist and adjunct professor of African American music at The New School and Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music

March 20: WJF in Conversation: There’s Something About Ella
(To RSVP for this FREE talk, please click here.) 

The inaugural Women's Jazz Festival (WJF) Conversation will feature an intimate discussion between scholars and musical artists discussing the legacy and life of Ella Fitzgerald. Joining the conversation are Candice Hoyes (jazz vocalist and executive producer of the album, "On a Turquoise Cloud"), Rommi Smith (poet, playwright, and a John Barnard doctoral research scholar at the University of Leeds, U.K. representing African-American jazz and blues women as agents of social change within civil rights movements), Aja Burrell Wood (ethnomusicologist, adjunct professor of African-American music, and guest curator of the 2017 Women's Jazz Festival), and Craig S. Harris (trombonist) (jazz trombonist and composer). 

Brent Edwards (Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and faculty at The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia) will moderate the conversation. The evening will be capped off with a special live performance from Ella Fitzgerald's song book by Hoyes, accompanied by pianist Michael King.

March 27: J’adore Ella

The French duo, Les Nubians, sisters Hélène and Célia Faussart from Bordeaux, France are known for melding African rhythms with jazz and R&B. This final evening of the festival will provide a glimpse of Fitzgerald’s  influence as an internationally acclaimed jazz artist. In 1990, Fitzgerald received the French medal of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres) for her significant contributions to jazz.  Infusing traditional Fitzgerald with cultural notes from across the African diaspora, the Grammy-nominated singers offer a sophisticated ode to why the world loves Ella Fitzgerald. Guest curated by the Afro-Latino Festival NYC.

WBGO Jazz 88.3FM/ is a media partner of the 2017 Women’s Jazz Festival.

(Image: Studio portrait of singer Ella Fitzgerald, circa 1940s, Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture)

@SchomburgCenter #WJF2017


Please note that holding seats in the Langston Hughes Auditorium is strictly prohibited and there is no food or drinks allowed anywhere in the Schomburg Center. 


Please send all press inquiries (photo, video, interviews, audio-recording, etc) at least 24-hours before the day of the program to Ayofemi Kirby at

Please note that professional photography and video recordings are prohibited without expressed consent.

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