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Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival — ‘Jazz and Justice’ Speaker Series

Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival

Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival
Saturday August 14, 1 p.m.–10 p.m.
Stearns Square, between Worthington and Bridge Streets
Springfield, MA

This festival is produced by Blues to Green, a nonprofit organization that harnesses music and the arts to celebrate community and culture, build shared purpose, and catalyze social and environmental change. While you’re at the Festival, join NEPM and Blue to Green for a related lecture series at Valley Venture Mentors — right around the block from the outdoor performance space.

Presented by Blues to Green and New England Public Media
Saturday August 14
Valley Venture Mentors
276 Bridge Street, Springfield, MA

Admission is free to the "Jazz and Justice" Speaker Series, but you need a reservation to the Festival to attend.

Carnival in Trinidad with Etienne Charles

‘Carnival in Trinidad with Etienne Charles’ at 3 p.m.
Trinidad born jazz trumpeter Etienne Charles will transport the audience to Carnival in Trinidad through a program that weaves together short films with a lecture. The program will delve into the experience of Carnival, as a dialogue between the past and the present. Etienne will explore African-based musical elements and traditions, discuss the masquerading traditions and the meaning behind the costumes and characters, the brass band tradition, and the evolution of the steel pans. He will illustrate the relationship between the Afro-descended music of the Caribbean region and New Orleans. The sounds and visual artistry of carnival in Etienne’s home country of Trinidad share a connection with the exuberant sounds, rhythms, and Black Masking Indians that are part of New Orleans’ Carnival. Etienne will highlight how the roots of the music that evolved into jazz express the resilience and innovation of oppressed peoples— creating beauty and joy out of tragedy and struggle.

Arts Faith and Activism

 ‘Arts, Faith & Activism: A Conversation about Climate Justice- with Rev Sekou and Rev. Mariam White-Hammond’ at 4:30 p.m.
Rev. Sekou and Rev. Mariama White Hammond will share their experiences and perspective on working for social and climate justice, highlighting the connection between arts, faith and activism. Leaders of Springfield’s Climate Justice Initiative will share the experience of Springfield residents and discuss efforts being made to move Springfield forward in addressing socio-economic and health disparities, while also addressing the issue of climate change. Rev. Sekou's music reflects the African American roots of American music through soul, funk and gospel music. He delivers a rousing, spiritually moving, and politically charged performance that has been referred to as "one-part protest rally, one-part Pentecostal tent revival, and one-part late night juke joint.” His study of theology and religion and his fervor for social justice has led him to be actively involved in the Black Lives Matter Movement, as well as other actions related to social and climate justice. Reverend Mariama White-Hammond from the New Roots African Methodist Episcopal Church in the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester, and newly appointed Chief of Energy, Environment and Open Spaces for the City of Boston, is an activist and advocate for ecological and social justice, youth engagement, and Spirit-filled organizing. As former director of Project HIP-HOP (Highways Into the Past- History, Organizing and Power), she used the arts as a tool to raise awareness for social issues from juvenile incarceration to funding for public transportation.

New Orleans Voodoo Music and Carnival Culture

‘New Orleans Voodoo, Music and Carnival Culture: the Socio-cultural Background of Charles Neville’ at 6 p.m.

This lecture connects to the exhibition “Horn Man: The Life and Musical Legacy of Charles Neville” currently on display at the Springfield Wood Museum in collaboration with the Blues to Green Jazz and Roots Festival. Dr. Ina Fandrich, a cultural historian and Voodoo expert from New Orleans, will explore the colorful, magical, but also very violent and dangerous world in which Mr. Neville grew up. The Grammy-award-winning saxophonist was born into a legendary family of musicians in a city that prides itself to be the birthplace of Jazz, Blues, Gospel, and Rock & Roll. During his childhood, the air was always filled with mesmerizing African polyrhythms, blending with the aroma of spicy seafood dishes. There was the uplifting beat of boisterous brass and marching bands, the joyful noise of spirited gospel choirs, the hypnotic call-and-response chants of the Mardi Gras Indian Carnival societies, and the wailing sounds of the Blues. Dr. Fandrich will introduce us to New Orleans’ rich black Carnival and African-based spiritual traditions that are at the center of much of the musical repertoire of the Neville Brothers.

Learn More About the Festival